Watchdog Group Wants FEC To Investigate Ryan Zinke For Purchasing An RV

Chris White | Energy Reporter

A watchdog group is requesting that federal officials investigate Interior Secretary Chief Ryan Zinke, claiming he broke the law when he purchased an RV during his political campaigns.

The FEC should consider whether Zinke violated campaign finance laws during his campaigns for Congress, according to a complaint that the Campaign Legal Center filed Monday. The group argued that the former lawmaker’s campaign purchased a $59,000 RV in April 2016 for his wife.

Zinke’s transaction means his campaign likely violated finance laws barring campaigns from purchasing personal items for candidates. His campaign reported selling a 2004 motor home for $25,000 in June — finance laws would prevent Zinke from selling the vehicle for below market value, the group argues.

An Interior Department spokeswoman declined a comment from reporters about the nature of the allegation.

The group’s accusation comes after September reports showed that Zinke took a four-hour flight from Nevada to Montana aboard a private plane of an executive with oil and gas exploration company Nielson & Associates, an E&E News report noted last month. His flight cost $12,375, an Interior Department spokeswoman told reporters at the time.

Jay Nielson, who co-owns the plane, told reporters that he was not in control of the jet at the time the Interior Department chartered it through a holding company called Choice Aviation. Nielson told WaPo that he was unsure whether Zinke flew on the plane.

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