Interior Secretary Zinke Falsely Claims His Travel Expenses Are Publicly Available

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Secretary Makes Misleading Remarks During Heritage Foundation Speech

WASHINGTON— In response to new revelations about charter flights he has taken, U.S. Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke falsely suggested in a speech today that the department makes all his travel expenses available to the public. In fact the Interior Department has only made five months of Zinke’s “trip summaries” publicly available, along with “trip expenses” for just three time periods in March and May.

“I don’t know who Zinke’s trying to fool by suggesting the Interior Department has been forthcoming about his travel expenses,” said Amy Atwood, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “If he’s genuinely apologetic about using tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money for his travel, then it’s time for real transparency about where he’s flying and why.”

Secretary Zinke claimed in remarks at the Heritage Foundation that the chartered flights were necessary to “travel in areas and under circumstances that we don’t have other flight options.” Yet Secretary Zinke’s trip summaries reveal that he used charter flights to travel from Las Vegas to his home in Montana at a cost of $12,375, as well for flights to Norway, Prudhoe Bay and Fairbanks, Alaska at unknown costs — all places where commercial flights are available.

The Center has requested all Zinke’s expense reports under the Freedom of Information Act and is currently suing to force release of his communications and schedules. The case is Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Department of the Interior, Civ. No. 17-01595 (DDC) (RC).

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