Zinke Spent $14K-Plus To Take Gov Helicopters To Events Around DC

FILE - In this July 30, 2017 file photo, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke speaks during a news conference near Gold Butte National Monument in Bunkerville, Nev. Zinke appears to be carving out an exception for his... FILE - In this July 30, 2017 file photo, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke speaks during a news conference near Gold Butte National Monument in Bunkerville, Nev. Zinke appears to be carving out an exception for his home state from the Trump administration’s agenda to open more public lands to natural resources development. Zinke wants to curb mining in Montana outside Yellowstone National Park. He’s also recommending Trump create a new national monument on 130,000-acres of forest land in northwest Montana while shrinking monuments in several other states. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP, File) /Las Vegas Sun via AP) MORE LESS

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke spent more than $14,000 this summer to fly in a helicopter to two events in and around Washington, D.C., Politico reported Thursday evening.

The use of the helicopters — which he used so he could attend the swearing-in ceremony for a member of Congress and to go on a horseback ride with the vice president — was justified by his staff as being the only feasible way to accommodate his busy schedule on those days. Both times his department requested the helicopters from the U.S. Park Police.

On June 21, his staff spent $8,000 to fly Zinke and his Chief of Staff Scott Hommel from Capitol Hill, where he attended Rep. Greg Gianforte’s (R-MT) swearing-in ceremony, to an emergency management exercise in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Staff told Politico they booked the flight because of the lack of time between the two events.

Gianforte replaced Zinke in Congress after he was appointed to the Department of the Interior. The congressman was charged with assault when he body slammed a reporter who was trying to ask him a question just before the election.

Zinke also took a helicopter on July 7 to fly to an event in Yorktown, Virginia and back to D.C. so he could be back in Washington in time to go on a horseback ride with Vice President Mike Pence, according to the documents obtained by Politico. 

Politico acquired the travel logs through a Freedom of Information Act request. The news comes as the Interior Department’s inspector general and the Office of Special Counsel conduct separate probes into Zinke’s mixing of official business travel and political events. 

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Sincerely,
TPM Staff
Latest Livewire
Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Reporters:
Newswriters:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: