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.
— Secretary Ryan Zinke (@SecretaryZinke) November 30, 2018
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)
“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).
“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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