Zinke is latest Trump cabinet member to have abused travel privileges

Interior Department watchdog says Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke violated numerous policies.

Ryan Zinke and Lolita Zinke on Capitol Hill on January 17, 2017. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Ryan Zinke and Lolita Zinke on Capitol Hill on January 17, 2017. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

The Interior Department’s inspector general has determined that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is the latest member of President Donald Trump’s administration to have violated travel policies.

Zinke and his wife Lola were faulted by the Interior Department’s watchdog for numerous violations, including trying to obtain free travel and misuse of federal vehicles, according to Politico.

A new report says Zinke sought to designate his wife an agency volunteer in order to obtain free travel for her, that he often brought her in federal vehicles in violation of agency policy and that he neglected to get permission from ethics officials when he took campaign donors on a boat trip.

The Washington Post reports Zinke’s “decision to take an unarmed security detail on his overseas vacation cost taxpayers $25,000.”


Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned in July after a series of controversies, including spending taxpayer money on first-class flights.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin was fired in March following criticism for expenses incurred during a 10-day trip to Europe in 2017.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned in September 2017 after months of scrutiny over his taxpayer-funded private travel.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly reimbursed taxpayers for his private travel to watch an eclipse with his wife.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao have also been criticized over taxpayer-funded travel expenses.


Zinke has been the subject of 14 federal investigations. The Trump administration reportedly tried to move a political appointee into the Interior Department’s watchdog role that is overseeing the many probes of Zinke. However, an Interior official appeared to walk back that decision on Thursday.