Trump’s former Interior secretary lied about major conflicts of interest: report

Trump’s former Interior secretary lied about major conflicts of interest: report

More than a year into Joe Biden’s presidency, new information about rules violations from the Trump Administration continue to come out. And according to the Interior Department Inspector General’s Office, one of the offenders was former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

In a report released on Wednesday, February 16, the Interior IG’s Office found that Zinke violated ethics rules by acting on behalf of his private foundation when he was in former President Donald Trump’s cabinet. Zinke joined the Trump Administration in March 2017 and resigned in December 2018, when he was facing multiple investigations about his conflicts of interest.

Zinke, journalist Brent D. Griffiths notes in Business Insider, “promised he would resign from” his foundation “and end his work on its behalf” when he joined the Trump Administration almost five years ago. But the Interior IG’s Office “found 64 instances of Zinke communicating with developers between August 2017 and July 2018 about a project that would use some of his foundation's land. Zinke, in 2018, claimed that his interactions with those developers were “purely social,” but the report found otherwise.

“According to the IG report,” Griffiths reports, “a senior executive at Halliburton, a multinational energy company, was one of the developers and primary investors for the project, known as 95 Karrow. The inspector general did not find that Zinke took any official action ‘to specifically benefit Halliburton,’ but it did refer the rest of its findings to the Justice Department. DOJ, per the report, declined to prosecute Zinke last summer. But federal investigators found that Zinke ‘did not comply with his duty of candor’ when he was questioned about his involvement in the Veterans Peace Park Foundation despite promising to recuse himself from its business.”

Before joining the Trump Administration, Zinke served in the Montana State Senate from 2009-2013 and in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2015-2017 — and in the 2022 midterms, the 60-year-old Republican is running for a U.S. House seat via Montana once again.

Zinke’s campaign, sounding very Trump-like, slammed the Interior IG report as a partisan “hit job” from President Joe Biden’s allies.

Zinke’s campaign told Business Insider, “A Biden Administration-led report published false information, and was shared with the press as a political hit job — real shocker. They didn't even bother to talk to Ryan Zinke, staff or anyone else who was supposedly involved in the non-existent ‘negotiations.’”

But in fact, Interior Inspector General Mark L. Greenblatt is a Republican and a Trump appointee.

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