The Billionaire Air scandal is growing: another of Trump’s Cabinet members has been misusing private jets to travel the country. A new report reveals that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke flew to Alaska in a military plane recently to attend a fundraiser and eat in a steakhouse.
Aren’t you glad you paid for his trip?
Zinke actually used the plane all week long. He flew from Washington, D.C. to Norway, then to Greenland and on to Alaska for the fundraiser.
The Department of the Interior paid for the flight, which included three of Zinke’s staff members and his wife, Lola. However, Interior says that Lola reimbursed the department for the cost of her seat.
But this time, the money isn’t the issue. If Zinke was in Alaska to participate in the fundraiser, and it certainly looks like that’s what is happening here, he is in violation of the Hatch Act.
The act is very clear, and it bans most executive officials from engaging in politics such as this while serving in office. In other words, it’s against the law for Zinke to attend a Republican fundraiser.
This is not the first time Zinke has been involved in politics since assuming his Cabinet position. In March, a lawsuit accused him of posing for photos in return for donations to the Republican Party.
At that time, former Director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub called for a federal investigation of Zinke’s activities.
The same month, Zinke went to a Montana ski resort to attend a fundraiser for Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT).
American Oversight has filed a new lawsuit against Zinke for his private plane usage. The Office of the Inspector General is reviewing the lawsuit even now.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has already resigned due to the unfolding Billionaire Air scandal.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry has also been implicated in the scandal and his use of private jets has also been called into question.
Prior to being appointed as the Secretary of the Interior, Zinke was a member of the Montana Senate and later served in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Zinke is also a former Navy SEAL, and should know better than to misuse taxpayer funds to jet around the country attending Republican fundraisers when his very position prevents him from doing such.
The Hatch Act specifically prevents executive branch employees from engaging in politics. This prevents conflict of interest and government corruption.
It also prevents the misuse of taxpayer funds, such as using military or private jets to attend fancy dinners in Alaska in order to raise funds for a politician.
Only the president and vice president are exempt from the Hatch Act. The Secretary of the Interior, however, is not. In fact, the entire Cabinet is subject to the Hatch Act.
That includes Ryan Zinke and Rick Perry—and Tom Price as well.
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