Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke held nothing back in his response to Rep. Raúl Grijalva’s (D-AZ) Friday morning op-ed calling for the secretary to resign amid mounting ethics scandals.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Zinke wrote: “It’s hard for him to think straight from the bottom of the bottle.” The Tweet included the hashtag “TuneInnForMore” in reference to a Capitol Hill bar that Grijalva was known to frequent.
— Secretary Ryan Zinke (@SecretaryZinke) November 30, 2018
In his USA Today op-ed, Grijalva, the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, wrote that Zinke’s “multiple scandals show he’s unfit to serve.”
“I take no pleasure in calling for this step, and I have resisted it even as questions have grown about Mr. Zinke’s ethical and managerial failings,” Grijalva wrote, saying that ultimately the secretary’s conduct in office has made this “unavoidable.”
Grijalva has vowed to ramp up oversight into the Interior department and Zinke’s actions when the Democratic Party assumes control of the House in January.
While Zinke was recently cleared of an ethics investigation regarding his decision to shrink two national monuments in Utah, at least one other investigation — involving a Halliburton chairman, land in Montana, and a microbrewery called Double Tap — has reportedly been referred to the Justice Department.
But rather than address the concerns, Zinke deflected the issue. “This is coming from a man who used nearly $50,000 in tax dollars as hush money to cover up his drunken and hostile behavior,” Zinke continued in his statement.
Here, Zinke is referencing a 2015 settlement between Grijalva and a former employee on the House Natural Resources Committee who accused the lawmaker of being frequently drunk and creating a hostile work environment.
“He should resign and pay back the taxpayer for the hush money and the tens of thousands of dollars he forced my department to spend investigating unfounded allegations,” Zinke countered.
Earlier this year Grijalva acknowledged in an interview with News 4 Tuscon that he once had a drinking problem, and said he had since gotten it under control. It’s unclear how long ago that was. “I dealt with it and I feel comfortable that I got past that,” he said. “Once you wrestled the demons and you beat them, you beat them and I feel very comfortable that demon’s beat.”
The allegations against Secretary Zinke are credible and serious. Instead of addressing the substantive issues raised in this morning’s op-ed, he's resorting to personal attacks. https://t.co/QRiVPAjxPv
— Raul M. Grijalva (@RepRaulGrijalva) November 30, 2018
Responding to Zinke’s tweet, Grijalva said on Friday afternoon that “the American people know who I’m here to serve, and they know in whose interests I’m acting. They don’t know the same about Secretary Zinke.”
He also tweeted defending his position, stating that “the allegations against Secretary Zinke are credible and serious. Instead of addressing the substantive issues raised in this morning’s op-ed, he’s resorting to personal attacks.”