Energy

Ryan Zinke Fires Back At Democrat Who Demanded He Resign

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke fired back at Democratic Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva’s call for the former Navy SEAL to resign over “ethical and managerial failings.”

“It’s hard for him to think straight from the bottom of the bottle. This is coming from a man who used nearly $50,000 in tax dollars as hush money to cover up his drunken and hostile behavior,” Zinke tweeted Friday.

Zinke is referring to news that broke in 2017 detailing how Grijalva allegedly paid a former staffer nearly $50,000 to settle claims the lawmaker was often drunk and created a hostile workplace. The arrangement might have also violated House rules.

Grijalva published an op-ed in USA Today on Friday calling on Zinke to resign and promising that questions surrounding Zinke’s policies and conduct “will only intensify as part of my and my colleagues’ legitimate oversight duties.” Grijalva is expected to chair the House Committee on Natural Resources in 2019.

“He holds his job as a public trust, not as a stepping stone to his further personal ambitions,” Grijalva wrote. (RELATED: Dem Rep Raúl Grijalva Calls For Zinke To Resign, Says He’ll Hammer Trump’s Interior Anyway)

U.S. Interior Secretary Zinke testifies before a Senate Appropriations Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing in Washington

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke testifies before a Senate Appropriations Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the FY2019 funding request and budget justification for the Interior Department, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas.

“He has abused that trust and damaged the Interior Department in the process. The least he can do is step down and give his successor a chance to begin reversing that damage,” Grijalva continued.

Federal officials, including the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) inspector general, confirmed 15 investigations into Zinke, more than his four predecessors combined. Grijalva specifically pointed to one investigation that was reportedly referred to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Congressman Espaillat, Speaker of the New York City Council Mark-Viverito, and Congressman Grijalva march onto 5th Avenue to block traffic during a rally to demand that U.S. President Donald Trump works with Congress to pass a clean DREAM Act in New York

Congressman Adriano Espaillat (R), Speaker of the New York City Council Melissa Mark-Viverito (C), and Congressman Raul Grijalva (L) march onto 5th Avenue to block traffic, before getting arrested, during a rally to demand that U.S. President Donald Trump works with Congress to pass a clean DREAM Act on the sideline of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, U.S. September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Ornitz.

“The referral centers on a land development project called 95 Karrow in Mr. Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Mont., involving David Lesar, the chairman of oil contractor Halliburton; his son John; and a Montana property developer named Casey Malmquist,” Grijalva wrote. “The proposal would increase the value of land controlled by Mr. Zinke’s family.”

However, Zinke argues those investigations showed he followed all rules and regulations. Zinke said Grijalva should resign for using taxpayers dollars for “hush money.”

“He should resign and pay back the taxpayer for hush money and the tens of thousands of dollars he forced my department to spend investigating unfounded allegations,” Zinke said.

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