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Inspector General’s Just-Announced Formal Probe Into Ryan Zinke’s Real Estate Deal Is 11th Federal Investigation Of Trump’s Interior Secretary

The announcement by the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) that it will open a formal investigation of Secretary Ryan Zinke’s real estate dealings with energy giant Halliburton represents the eleventh federal investigation into Zinke opened to date. Most of those investigations are for potential ethical violations.

“Scott Pruitt clearly was not the only member of Trump’s Cabinet with multiple, serious ethics problems,” said Rep. Beyer. “Unfortunately, as in Pruitt’s case, many of Secretary Zinke’s issues stem from ignoring ethics guidelines while empowering industry. The rampant corruption in the Trump Administration is the product of a president who sets the worst possible example and a Congress which shrugs off its oversight duties. The American people deserve better.”

Secretary Zinke has previously come under investigation for staff reassignments, threats to a Senator, non-commercial flights, violating the Hatch Act (three investigations into separate incidents), improper use of DOI vehicles, the handling of a casino expansion, the scrubbing of a National Parks Service climate study, and the halting of two public health studies. Those probes, all but four of which remain open, have been conducted by the DOI’s Inspector General, the Office of Special Counsel, and the Government Accounting Office.

Though he took office less than a year and a half ago, Zinke’s 11 federal investigations match the total by all previous Interior Secretaries in the current century put together. By contrast, Zinke’s predecessor Sally Jewell served for nearly four years with no formal (ethics or otherwise) investigations of misconduct.

Representative Beyer serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources, which has jurisdiction over the Department of the Interior, where he has led bipartisan opposition to oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic Ocean. He is the only Member of Congress to have worked as a ranger for the National Parks Service.