Interior Department watchdog investigating real estate deal involving Ryan Zinke

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The Inside Division’s inside watchdog has opened an investigation into an actual property deal involving Inside Secretary Ryan Zinke and the pinnacle of the Hallburton vitality firm.

The investigation was first reported by Politico and confirmed to Fox Information by Nancy DiPaolo, a spokeswoman for the inspector normal’s workplace.

The investigation facilities on a basis Zinke established to construct a park in his house state of Montana. In September of final yr, Zinke’s spouse, Lola, signed an settlement permitting a gaggle of builders — together with Halliburton Chairman David Lesar — to make use of its land to construct a parking zone for a improvement in Zinke’s hometown.

Zinke spokeswoman Heather Swift has mentioned he did nothing unsuitable and that Zinke resigned from the muse’s board of administrators previous to the land deal.

Final month, Zinke affirmed he had met with Lesar and his son on the Inside Division in August of final yr. Nonetheless, he insisted that he offered them solely with background on the nonprofit and the land it owned.

Democrats had known as for Zinke to be investigated with the intention to decide whether or not the deal violated conflict-of-interest guidelines.

“Secretary Zinke doesn’t appear to take his accountability to the general public significantly,” Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., instructed Politico on Wednesday. “He is turned it into the Ryan Zinke present, which is extra about waving his personal flag above the constructing and doing private enterprise offers along with his mates as a substitute of defending public lands and bettering our environmental high quality. This formal investigation is one in every of many he’s managed to pile up in his quick and undistinguished tenure, and I be part of my Democratic colleagues in in search of the transparency and accountability that Republicans have to this point not offered.”

Zinke, a former Montana congressman, has not commented to Fox Information on the opening of the investigation.

Fox Information’ Kelly Chernenkoff and The Related Press contributed to this report.

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