Two House Democrats are asking the Office of Inspector General to extend an investigation into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s travel expenses to include his wife, Politico reports.
After revealing last week he took three charter flights paid for by taxpayers, Zinke is under investigation for “a little BS over travel,” he said, according to the New York Post. (RELATED: Federal Officials Launch Investigation Into Interior Secretary’s Private Jet Travel)
Reps. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona and Donald McEachin of Virginia want Zinke’s wife, Lola, also investigated because of her position in a Montana senate race.
“Because the secretary’s spouse is leading a Senate campaign in Montana, tax-payer funded travel for Mrs. Zinke, especially to or from Montana, deserves heightened scrutiny,” a letter from Grijalva and McEachin said, according to Politico.
The investigation comes as former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned Friday after spending taxpayer money to take $400,000 worth of private flights.
Zinke revealed chartered flights he took because “taxpayers absolutely have the right to know official travel costs,” according to the New York Post.
Zinke took one private flight that cost over $12,000. The Department of the Interior, however, has contracted since 2014 with the company that owned that particular flight, Choice Aviation LLC.
Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell took three charter flights from the same company in 2016 while serving under former President Barrack Obama.
An ethics board cleared Zinke’s $12,000 flight beforehand because he lacked any commercial options that could fit his schedule.
“Using tax dollars wisely and ethically is a greatest responsibility and it is at the heart of a good government,” Zinke said speaking Friday at The Heritage Foundation. “And there are times, however, when we have to utilize charter services because we often travel in areas and under circumstances that we don’t have other flight options.”
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