Zinke on track to be $200K over travel budget: report

Zinke on track to be $200K over travel budget: report
© Greg Nash

Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: EPA moves to raise ethanol levels in gasoline | Dems look to counter White House climate council | Zinke cleared of allegations tied to special election Zinke cleared of violating federal rules tied to Pennsylvania special election Overnight Energy: Trump unveils 2020 budget | Plan slashes funds for EPA, Interior and Energy | Interior request highlights border security MORE is on track to be $200,000 over his travel budget, CNN reports.

Documents obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a group that has been highly critical of the Trump administration, showed that his office was told of the overspending in October.

The office disputed the documents, telling CNN that it has spent less money on travel due to fewer staff members and that it was within the budget.

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Interior press secretary Heather Swift declined to tell CNN how much the office spent on travel in 2017, saying there is "no set in stone budget for travel specifically."

Zinke is one of several Trump administration officials under scrutiny for their use of private travel, including Environmental Protection Agency head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: EPA moves to raise ethanol levels in gasoline | Dems look to counter White House climate council | Zinke cleared of allegations tied to special election EPA pushes forward plan to increase ethanol mix in gasoline Trump: The solitary executive MORE and Veterans Affairs Secretary David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinTrump sent policy pitch from Mar-a-Lago member to VA secretary: report Is a presidential appointment worth the risk? It’s time to end the scare tactics and get to work for our veterans MORE.

Zinke is also under scrutiny for taking a chartered helicopter tour of monuments in Nevada in July.

He was joined by a Bureau of Land Management supervisor who usually oversees firefighting crews, the same day there were more than 20 fires in the region.

The crew supervisor’s Facebook shows he was actively working on the fires through September, but was listed on the flight manifest with Zinke on July 30.

The Interior Department didn’t say if the supervisor was pulled from his wildfire duty to travel with Zinke. A spokeswoman did tell CNN that it’s required for an Interior-qualified helicopter manager to join the secretary on privately piloted charter flights.

Staff at the Interior Department also tried to arrange for Zinke to go on chartered flights from Las Cruces, N.M., to Santa Fe, N.M., and from Santa Fe to Las Vegas in July.

But they were unable to arrange the trips because pilots were working to fight wildfires in the region.

“Due to the active fires we're having trouble getting two pilots for the charter flights in Nevada and New Mexico,” an internal email obtained by the group Democracy Forward and shared with CNN read. “We're still waiting to hear from one more vendor, but please let me know if we are willing to proceed with the flights if there is only one pilot."