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Is Secretary Zinke Campaigning on Taxpayer Funded Travel?
According to a recent report from Politico, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has been hitting up campaign fundraisers for his buddies while flying around the country on the taxpayer dime.
Along with Tom Price, Steve Mnuchin and other members of the Trump administration, Zinke is one of a slew of top government officials whose travel habits have come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks. There appears to be a systemic entitlement among these individuals that they should be able to fly on expensive private jets whenever they want, even if those trips run afoul of current government ethics laws. In investigating Zinke’s travel, Politico appears to have uncovered campaign fundraising activity that’s supposed to be a no-no when traveling on official business.
Zinke’s previously undisclosed attendance at the events adds to scrutiny he is facing over his habit of mixing political activities with official business when traveling outside of Washington, D.C., and to questions over travel expenses incurred by members of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet. In addition to the fundraisers, Zinke has held at least a half-dozen other events with big donors or influential conservative organizations while on official trips.
There have also been reports of Zinke attending a fundraiser during his trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands on a private flight.
Under the Hatch Act, government officials are supposed to be barred from engaging in political activity while they are acting in their official capacity, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped Zinke from showing up at several GOP shindigs in order to rally the troops and get some much-needed money in the coffers. Further reporting suggests he attended fundraisers in Big Sky, Montana, and another one in Alaska, though for the latter he didn’t appear on the official invitation — a good way to keep things on the QT and away from prying eyes, or so they thought.
It’s unclear, however, of Zinke will face the same pressure to resign that Price did. The GOP seems to become desensitized to depravity among its ranks. After the first time, they become more okay with it.