Zinke Target of FEC Ethics Complaint

By on October 30, 2017
Ryan Zinke

A watchdog organization has Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in its crosshairs.

The Campaign Legal Center filed a 20-page complaint on Monday with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that Zinke committed an illegal transaction by having his congressional campaign purchase an RV from his wife and then selling it for much cheaper to a friend of the family. The campaign allegedly paid $59,100 for the RV, spent additional money to repair and maintain the vehicle, and then eventually sold it to the friend for a sweetheart price of $25,000 — far below market value.

According to the filing, the Campaign Legal Center says this transaction runs afoul of campaign finance laws that prohibit campaign funds to be used for personal reasons — such as buying the vehicle from Zinke’s wife or selling it to a friend for cheap. The watchdog group is also asking the FEC to look at the money that Zinke’s campaign spent on catering, transportation, and lodging costs in Montana, New York City, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

There are also allegations that fundraising committees may have fudged some financial transfers to allow Zinke’s donors to give him larger amounts of money above and beyond the normal contribution limits.

Zinke’s office has declined comment.

The current Interior Secretary served as a Montana Congressman for two years before assuming his current post. Since taking his new job, he has been accused of trying to pressure Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to vote in favor of Trumpcare by threatening to take away federal dollars from her state. He is also the center of a current probe into exorbitant private plane costs for travel across the country that has coincided with appearances at GOP fundraising events. It is illegal to use public money to travel in an official government capacity for political reasons.

Zinke has denied wrongdoing, but so did former HHS Secretary Dr. Tom Price… right up until the moment he was forced to resign.