Report: Interior Secretary Zinke Has A Flag Raised When He’s At HQ

Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has a special flag raised for him whenever he occupies his department’s headquarters, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

When Zinke isn’t around, the Post noted, a different flag is raised to represent the deputy secretary, David Bernhardt. The Post also reported that Zinke had personalized coins made as giveaways for staff and visitors. 

Raising a flag to mark an official’s presence in a building is perhaps most well known as a tradition marking the location of the Queen of England, not a Cabinet member. The Post noted that U.S. military field commanders “often” display their unit’s flag to mark their presence at headquarters, but that the practice has long since gone out of style for other government officials.

As a Navy SEAL, Zinke’s spending habits drew attention: According to the Intercept, investigators found a “pattern of travel fraud” after Zinke was caught flying home to Montana on the government’s dime to renovate his home.

Now, Zinke is one of several of Trump’s Cabinet members currently under investigation for his use of taxpayer-funded charter and military planes.

In September he called the scrutiny he’s received for those flights “a little BS.”

Representatives at the Interior Department’s press office didn’t respond to TPM’s inquiries about Zinke’s secretarial flag.

But Heather Swift, a spokesperson for Zinke, told the Post it was a “major sign of transparency.”

“Ryan Zinke is proud and honored to lead the Department of the Interior, and is restoring honor and tradition to the department, whether it’s flying the flag when he is in garrison or restoring traditional access to public lands,” she said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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