Ethical violations that occurred during the Trump administration were revealed in a new federal report released on Wednesday.
"While serving as Interior Department secretary under Donald Trump, Ryan Zinke broke federal ethics rules repeatedly by improperly participating in real estate negotiations with the chairman of the energy giant Halliburton at the time and other developers, the department’s internal watchdog found in a report released Wednesday. Interior Department Inspector General Mark Greenblatt found that while Zinke was in office, he sent dozens of emails and text messages, held phone calls and met in his office with developers to discuss the design of a large commercial and residential development in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana," The Washington Post reported.
When Zinke resigned in 2018, the same newspaper reported he was "facing intense pressure to step down because of multiple probes tied to his real estate dealings in his home state of Montana and his conduct in office."
Zinke is seeking a political comeback, running in Montana's western congressional district, although he was reportedly caught listing a hotel as his address amid reports he lives in Santa Barbara, California.
"Now a leading Republican candidate to win a newly drawn congressional seat in Montana this fall, Zinke also lied to an agency ethics official who questioned him about his involvement in the negotiations, according to the report. Zinke told the staffer that his participation in the project was minimal and limited to tax preparation, saying he no longer represented the foundation," The Post reported Wednesday. "Investigators also concluded in the 32-page report that Zinke misused his official position by directing some of his staff to set up a meeting with the developers and print out documents related to the project. Federal officials are generally prohibited from assigning their employees tasks related to their private business."
Trump endorsed Zinke's campaign in July.
"As Montana’s Congressman for the new 2nd District, Ryan will fight against the Radical Left Democrats who continually block the America First policies we put in place. He will be a strong leader for the great Patriots of Montana. Ryan has my Complete and Total Endorsement for Congress!" Trump wrote.
Zinke is facing former state Sen. Al Olszewski among others in the GOP primary. Democrats seeking the seat include Cora Neumann, Monica Tranel, and former state Rep. Tom Winter.
Read the full report.