IG Probe Finds Ex-US Interior Secretary Failed to Comply With Ethics Standards
18:30 GMT 16.02.2022 (Updated: 18:31 GMT 16.02.2022)
© AP Photo / Richard DrewRep. Ryan Zinke, right, R-Mont., arrives in Trump Tower, in New York
© AP Photo / Richard Drew
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - A US Department of the Interior Inspector General (IG) probe into former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke found that he failed to comply with ethical obligations and duty of candor while in office, a report on the investigation said on Wednesday.
“We investigated allegations that former Secretary of the US Department of the Interior (DOI) Ryan Zinke continued to be involved in a land development project in his hometown of Whitefish, MT, after he was appointed as Secretary of the Interior and that his continued involvement posed a potential conflict of interest with his official duties,” the report said.
The allegations centered around Zinke’s involvement with the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation from which Zinke said he had resigned after being appointed Interior Secretary under the Trump administration.
However, emails and texts subpoenaed by the Inspector General showed that Zinke continued to be involved with the Foundation after resigning and negotiated on their behalf over the development of land for a project called 95 Karrow, the report said.
“In light of these communications, we found that Secretary Zinke failed to abide by his ethics obligations in which he committed not to manage or provide any other services to the Foundation after his appointment as Secretary of the Interior. We also found that Secretary Zinke did not comply with his duty of candor when questioned by the DOI’s then Designated Agency Ethics Official (DAEO) about his continued involvement in Foundation matters, including the 95 Karrow project,” the report said.
The probe also found that Zinke misused his official position by directing subordinates to assist him with matters related to the Foundation and 95 Karrow project, the report said. They did not find that Zinke’s staff tried to conceal his involvement with the Foundation, the report added.
Zinke officially resigned as Interior Secretary on January 2, 2019. In a statement on his departure from office, Zinke said that he could not justify spending thousands of dollars defending himself and his family against “false allegations.”