A perk to being inside the Interior Secretary’s circle? Personalized tours through National Park Service sites perhaps.
According to Freedom of Information Act records, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his wife Lola requested VIP tours of national parks for their friends and acquaintances, the Washington Post reported Friday.
In the past 14 months, FOIA documents show the Zinkes have arranged for acquaintances and administration officials to get special tours of the Lincoln Memorial that include areas not open to the public.
Taxpayers’ money also funded a work trip to California’s Channel Islands National Park for a yacht broker who once sold Lola Zinke a boat. A Zinke aide told WaPo that the interior secretary described the yacht broker as one of three guests who were “subject matter experts” and could offer “personal testimony” about the area.
Other VIP tours included the interior secretary’s personally arranged two custom White House tours for friends affiliated with the Navy SEAL program and Lola Zinke’s “two friends from England” getting a guided tour of Joshua Tree National Park in California.
Interior spokesperson Heather Swift said in an email to WaPo Thursday that Zinke “uses his own personal time to give tours of the Lincoln Memorial to employees, reporters, and the general public several times per month because he believes the more people who experience our parks, the better.”
- -Hiring More Journalists
- -Providing free memberships to those who cannot afford them
- -Supporting independent, non-corporate journalism