Interior Sec’y Ryan Zinke Blasts Democrat Raul Grijalva over $48k ‘Hush Money’

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - DECEMBER 4: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke gives a speech before U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at the Rotunda of the Utah State Capitol on December 4, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Trump announced the reduction in size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante …
George Frey/Getty Images

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke blasted Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) on Friday after the latter published an op-ed in USA Today calling on Zinke to resign, noting Grijalva had cost taxpayers nearly $50,000 in “hush money” to a staffer.

Grijalva, the incoming chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, published an op-ed titled, “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke must resign. His multiple scandals show he’s unfit to serve.” He wrote (original links):

As has been widely reported, an Interior Department inspector general investigation of Mr. Zinke — one of at least 17 publicly known formal probes of either him or his department since he took office — was recently referred to the Justice Department. The referral centers on a land development project called 95 Karrow in Mr. Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Mont., involving David Lesar, the chairman of oil contractor Halliburton; his son John; and a Montana property developer named Casey Malmquist. The proposal would increase the value of land controlled by Mr. Zinke’s family.

The American people need an Interior Department focused on addressing climate change, enhancing public recreation, protecting endangered species and upholding the sovereign rights of Native American communities. These are not matters of personal preference — they are enshrined in law and supported by voters. The department needs someone accountable at the helm who believes in this mission.

Mr. Zinke is not that person. Federal agencies cannot function without credible leadership, and he offers none. He needs to resign.

Zinke has denied any wrongdoing. He told Fox News’ Shannon Bream on Thursday night: “I have had ten investigations completed, and you know what they all say? ‘Ryan Zinke follows all the rules, all the regulations, all the procedures.’ This is politically motivated. In Montana, we call it ‘BS’.” He added that he expected to be investigated for telling America to have a “Merry Christmas.”

In response to Grijalva’s op-ed, Zinke tweeted that Grijalva should be the one to resign, over his “hush money”:

A year ago, the Washington Times reported that Grijalva “quietly arranged a ‘severance package’ in 2015 for one of his top staffers who threatened a lawsuit claiming the Arizona Democrat was frequently drunk and created a hostile workplace environment.” The amount of the severance was $48,395, equivalent to five months’ salary, and was paid out by the House Employment Counsel using public funds.

Grijalva responded to Zinke in a statement Friday: “The American people know who I’m here to serve, and they know in whose interest I’m acting. They don’t know the same about Secretary Zinke.”

Zinke’s response to Grijalva occurred before a massive earthquake struck near Anchorage, Alaska.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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