Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke slammed any insinuation he misused taxpayer money to pay for his travel as Interior Secretary Tuesday.
Zinke spoke in front of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Tuesday to discuss the 2019 budget proposal for the Department of the Interior. Democratic Washington Sen. and ranking committee member Maria Cantwell took the opportunity to ask Zinke if it was a “mistake” when he chartered a flight from Las Vegas to Montana.
“Insults, innuendos are misleading,” Zinke responded.
The circumstances of three flights — two taken with other public officials and the third, the Las Vegas flight Cantwell referenced — was taken to make a scheduled appointment with the Montana governor, Zinke went on to explain. He also contrasted his travel with that of former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, whose similar flights cost taxpayers about $1 million.
“I resent the fact of your insults. I resent the fact they’re misleading,” Zinke said. “I’ll go through it line by line.”
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The inspector general of the Department of the Interior opened an investigation into the secretary’s travel, while an ethics board cleared each of Zinke’s flights.
“I can take attacks on myself and my family … We’re a military family,” Zinke said later in the hearing. “We live by ‘Do right, fear no man, wake up and make sure we are accountable.’ Everything I do is looked at through a whole legal team and office of ethics.”