Interior’s Ryan Zinke may be headed for exit following midterms election results

With an ethics controversy swirling over his head, U.S. Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke is rumored to be mulling resigning his post as the top administrator over federal lands.

Zinke, 57, has led the department since March 2017, but faces six current federal or congressional probes.

Since assuming his role as head of Interior, Zinke first came under fire for over lavish travel at the government’s expense, including the accusation he used public funds to pay for a trip abroad to Greece and Turkey.

Similarly, Zinke has become embroiled in further controversy over a real estate deal in his hometown of Whitefish, Mont., involving oilfield service company Halliburton.

According to sources, the energy giant is proposing a development in Whitefish, which would include the construction of a microbrewery, a business Zinke is known to have expressed an interest in owning.

Zinke has also faced criticism over his relationship with energy firms the department is tasked with regulating and for his role in a lawsuit connected to the development plans for a casino in Connecticut.

In late October, the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General referred the conclusion of an internal probe over to the Department of Justice.

According to sources close to Zinke, the former Montana congressman has made clear he plans on resigning prior to the end of the year and is contemplating a position with energy or private equity firms.

Zinke leaving the Trump administration would come just before Democrats take majority control of the House of Representatives on Jan. 3, 2019.  Likely incoming Natural Resources Committee chairman, Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.), has already vowed to investigate Zinke’s Haliburton deal.

Despite open-source reporting suggesting Zinke was destined to land a role with Fox News, both the network and Interior spokespersons have denied the story.

 

[Politico] [The Hill] [Photo courtesy Evan Vucci/AP via Politico]

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