Interior watchdog investigating Zinke's use of chartered jets

Interior watchdog investigating Zinke's use of chartered jets
© Greg Nash

The Interior Department’s office of inspector general is investigating Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Biden launches blitz for jobs plan with 'thank you, Georgia' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court sets in motion EPA ban on pesticide linked to developmental issues | Trump Interior Secretary Zinke files to run for Congress, again | Senate passes bipartisan B water infrastructure bill MORE’s use of chartered planes, a department spokesperson confirmed.

Nancy K. DiPaolo, spokeswoman for Interior’s inspector general's office, said the office began its investigation into the use of the chartered jets late last week.

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Politico, which also broke the news of the inspector general's investigation, first reported last week that Zinke and his aides had taken multiple flights on chartered or military planes to travel to his home state of Montana, as well as to travel to events between two Caribbean islands.

He also used a military plane in August to survey wildfires in Montana with Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueSonny PerdueOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court rules that pipeline can seize land from New Jersey | Study: EPA underestimated methane emissions from oil and gas development | Kevin McCarthy sets up task forces on climate, other issues The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Georgia election day is finally here; Trump hopes Pence 'comes through for us' to overturn results Civil war between MAGA, GOP establishment could hand Dems total control MORE. Both agencies plan to reimburse the Air Force for the use of the plane.

Zinke called the reports “a little BS,” saying last week that he used the planes only when “no commercial options existed” to fit the schedule.

“The flights were only booked after extensive due diligence by the career professionals in the department’s general law and ethics division,” he said.

Zinke is the latest Trump administration official to face scrutiny over his travel.

Former Health Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Former Georgia ethics official to challenge McBath A proposal to tackle congressional inside trading: Invest in the US MORE resigned Friday after it was revealed he had spent more than $400,000 in taxpayer funds on private jets for government travel.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Saluting FOIA on its birthday Watchdog found EPA employees kept on payroll by Trump appointees after they were fired: report MORE have also used noncommercial travel while working in the Trump administration.