CREW requests Interior records on Zinke Travel
- Copies of all records concerning authorization for and the costs of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s use of non-commercial aircraft for any official travel since his confirmation on March 1, 2017. This includes all such authorizations Secretary Zinke or anyone acting on behalf of Secretary Zinke sought, whether or not such authorization was granted.
- Records sufficient to show the amount of money budgeted for Secretary Zinke’s travel, whether on a yearly or fiscal year basis, for 2017 and 2018, and the amount budgeted for the Secretary’s travel for 2016.
Recent news reports have focused on the use by agency heads of non-commercial aircraft for official government travel. For example, it was recently reported that HHS Secretary Tom Price traveled by private jet on five separate flights during a one-week period, all at a cost of thousands of dollars in excess of what commercial flights would have cost. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has been criticized for his use of a private plane to travel to Lexington, Kentucky, during which he took in the solar eclipse at For Knox with his wife, and his earlier request to travel by government plane for his honeymoon. Secretary Zinke’s Twitter account documents at least 20 separate domestic trips since his confirmation on March 1, 2017, including to attend the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)’s 45th annual meeting reception in Colorado, a trip to the Rocky Mountain National Park on July 21 and 22, and at least four trips to his home state of Montana. Prior to taking office, Secretary Zinke allegedly used government resources for personal travel home, and he confirmed that he “improperly billed the government for travel to his home in Montana when he was a midlevel SEAL Team 6 officer.”
The requested records would shed light on whether Secretary Zinke, like other cabinet heads, has traveled on non-commercial flights for official business. At a time of expected deep cuts to the federal budget, the taxpayers have a significant interest in learning the extent to which Secretary Zinke has used government funds for travel, and the justification for that use.
On Nov 21,2017, CREW filed a lawsuit against the Department of the Interior, and on January 31, 2018, CREW received documents from the Department of the Interior. Click here to read Interior’s 2016 Fiscal Budget, and click here to read a partially redacted consolidation of its financial records and projections from 2017.