Politics

Investigators Drop Probe Into Zinke’s ‘Threats’ About Health Care Vote

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Investigators are no longer looking into allegations that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke made illegal or inappropriate threats to a Senator during the contentions vote on the Senate’s health care reform bill.

Congressional Democrats claimed Zinke may have violated lobbying laws when he called Alaska Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan after they voted against advancing an Obamacare reform bill, but the Department of the Interior’s Office of the Inspector said in a letter Wednesday that there’s nothing to investigate.

“OIG does not believe that it could meaningfully investigate the matter further,” deputy inspector general Mary Kendall wrote in a letter to the Senators that requested the inquiry, adding that “further investigation would prove unproductive,” CNN reports.

The OIG’s letter, addressed to Democratic Reps. Frank Pallone of New Jersey and Raul Grijalva of Arizona who requested an investigation into the matter July 27, says that both Murkowski and Sullivan declined to be a part of the investigation.

Sullivan told the Alaska Dispatch July 26 that Zinke had called him and threatened to withhold federal support for Alaskan programs if he didn’t support the Senate’s Obamacare reform bill which ultimately failed.

“I’m not going to go into the details, but I fear that the strong economic growth, pro-energy, pro-mining, pro-jobs and personnel from Alaska who are part of those policies are going to stop,” Sullivan told the Dispatch after the call with Zinke. The “message was pretty clear” that the administration would withhold funding if if he and Murkowski didn’t vote to advance the bill, Sullivan said.

Grijalva and Pallone also asked the Government Accountability Office to look into whether Zinke’s conversations with the Alaska Senators. The GAO did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment on the status of that investigation.

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