Scandal-plagued former Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke was found to have lied to the federal investigators "several times" while looking into a petition of an Indian tribe seeking to operate a casino in New England, the Washington Post reported.
According to the Inspector General's report released Wednesday, Zinke and his former chief of staff didn't comply with their “duty of candor” as public officials to tell the truth.
"We found that both Secretary Zinke and the [chief of staff] made statements that presented an inaccurate version of the circumstances in which [the Interior Department] made key decisions," the report said. "As a result, we concluded that Secretary Zinke and the [chief of staff] did not comply with their duty of candor when questioned."
The IG report explained "made statements to OIG investigators with the overall intent to mislead them."
Zinke's attorney is attacking the report saying that it's twisting what happened and implying that the timing was politically motivated to impact his 2022 congressional election. His primary election already took place in July and the general election isn't until November.
The scandal surrounded a meeting he had with Nevada Republicans and MGM Resorts International, while they tried to fight a planned casino by the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes in Connecticut. Zinke didn't grant the tribe their petition nor did he deny it. He sent it back to the tribes to discuss.
The probe began as an investigation into Zinke's influence but quickly evolved into the lies told to investigators and the reason for them.
Zinke swore that he just met "socially" with former Nevada Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) about the casino project and he couldn't remember anything that was discussed. Zinke was interviewed about it twice in 2018, before he was ultimately forced to resign after several ethics investigations and probes around his real estate holdings. He was found to have lied in that case as well.
One of the revelations was that Zinke was using taxpayer-funded air travel for his own private use. Using private jets and military aircraft, Zinke flew back and forth between Whitefish, Montana, and Washington, D.C. as well as a trip to two Caribbean islands. He was one of four Trump Cabinet secretaries found to have used government jets and military aircraft for their personal travel.
That same year, Zinke was the source of mockery by HBO host John Oliver, who revealed that the so-called "geologist" wasn't actually a "geologist" after all. He's called himself a geologist at least 40 times before someone finally questioned the qualifications.
At the end of last year, Zinke was accused of not living in Montana, where he's running for Congress, using a hotel as his address while actually living in Santa Barbara, California.
Zinke has also become part of a scandal around energy giant Halliburton.
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