Ex-Interior chief rips attacks, says being a billionaire 'can't be a prerequisite' for public office

Ex-Interior chief rips attacks, says being a billionaire 'can't be a prerequisite' for public office

Former Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeTrump extends Florida offshore drilling pause, expands it to Georgia, South Carolina Conspicuous by their absence from the Republican Convention Trump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet MORE criticized the investigations into his tenure in an interview published Monday, saying that his experience suggested public officials would have to be billionaires in order to afford to fight politically motivated attacks. 

“For the future of our country, we need really good people to serve, and the resume shouldn’t start with a billionaire on the front of it,” Zinke told the Washington Examiner in an interview. “I have nothing against billionaires. I worked for one, love him to death. But it can’t be a prerequisite for serving in the highest levels of our government.”

Zinke claimed the investigations into him were “intended to harass” and that he stepped aside so he wouldn't have to risk his personal savings on expected legal fees. 

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Zinke resigned at the end of 2018 after being the subject of more than a dozen investigations, including scrutiny over a land deal involving a foundation he led.

His comments come amid the firing of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, who was investigating whether Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoWatchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump Trump's push for win with Sudan amps up pressure on Congress  Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize MORE misused a political appointee to perform personal tasks. 

Zinke also said science was being politicized, adding he does not believe there is enough data to suggest global warming in a crisis.  

“It’s unfortunate that science is being used to justify a political agenda,” Zinke said, adding he “tried to refrain from such nonsense.”