Zinke: Hard for Dem lawmaker to think straight 'from bottom of bottle'

Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkePuerto Rican police fire tear gas at crowds protesting governor Overnight Energy: Trump officials gut DC staff for public lands agency to move West | Democrats slam EPA over scientific boards | Deepwater Horizon most litigated environmental issue of decade Trump officials gut DC staff as public lands agency preps to move out West MORE sent a jaw-dropping counterpunch to a top Democratic lawmaker Friday, saying it was hard for Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) to "think straight from the bottom of the bottle."

Zinke's statement, delivered over Twitter, was in response to an op-ed in USA Today authored by Grijalva that called for Zinke’s ouster.


“It’s hard for him to think straight from the bottom of the bottle," Zinke, a former GOP lawmaker who served with Grijalva in the House, said in a tweeted statement teased with the hashtag #TuneInnForMore.

"This is coming from a man who used nearly $50,000 in tax dollars as hush money to cover up his drunken and hostile behavior," Zinke said. 

Zinke's assertion references a $48,000 settlement Grijalva entered into with a former employee on the House Natural Resources Committee who accused him of being frequently drunk and creating a hostile work environment. The 2015 deal was first reported on last year. The Tune Inn is a bar on Capitol Hill.

“He should resign and pay back the taxpayer for the hush money and the tens of thousands of dollars he forced my department to spend investigating unfounded allegations,” Zinke's statement reads.

Grijalva, the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, has launched several investigations into Zinke through requests to the Interior Department's inspector general (IG).

The requests included that the IG look into reports that Zinke unlawfully entered into a real estate deal with the chairman of the oil services company Halliburton.

The land deal between Zinke and David Lesar included the construction of a micro-brewery. The IG’s office last month referred that investigation to the Department of Justice.

Grijalva released a statement responding to Zinke that said: "The American people know who I'm here to serve, and they know in whose interests I'm acting. They don't know the same about Secretary Zinke."

Earlier Friday, Grijalva wrote in USA Today that Zinke should resign, citing the cabinet secretary’s “ethical and managerial failings.”

“While the secretary continues to project confidence, questions have grown since the election about his future plans, and the White House reportedly fears that he would be unable to withstand scrutiny on Capitol Hill,” Grijalva wrote.

“Those fears are justified. Mr. Zinke has never even tried to offer an explanation for the sheer scope of his well-documented scandals.”