An escalating investigation into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s actions has been referred to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The Washington Post and CNN both confirmed through anonymous sources that the Interior Department’s Inspector General has passed along an inquiry. According to an analysis by the Center for Western Priorities, Zinke is facing 18 investigations overall. Only one investigation has reached the DOJ level, though the topic isn’t yet known.
Secretary Zinke’s Interior Department has been instrumental in opening up public lands to drilling in Wyoming and across the west.
Chris Saeger, the Western Values Project Executive Director, said internal investigations into the Secretary’s actions span a wide range.
“Everything from wasting tax dollars for travels with family, to an expensive $139,000 door to replace in his office, to giving a usually high degree of access to the industry,” he said.
There have, also, been accusations that the Secretary has tried to fire the current inspector general who brought these investigations forward, which some believe led to the DOJ-referred inquiry. In a statement yesterday, ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, Raul Grijalva, said he would like to see Zinke called to testify in front of Congress if Democrats take the House of Representatives next week.
The DOI Inspector General’s office did not respond for comment by news time, nor did Secretary Zinke’s counsel. However, A Politico article did quote his counsel Stephen Ryan, a partner with McDermott Will & Emery, saying the Secretary has done nothing wrong and hasn’t been notified of any DOJ investigation.