Report: Ryan Zinke violated his ethics pledge

By Juliet Eilperin | Washington Post

WASHINGTON – Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke continued to engage in discussions involving his family foundation’s property in summer 2017 despite the fact that he had pledged to recuse himself from such matters for a year, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

At issue is an August 2017 email exchange with David Taylor, the city planner for Whitefish, Montana. Zinke authorized him to access the property and explained that he was engaged in negotiations with a real estate developer over building a parking lot on his foundation’s land. But under an ethics pledge he signed Jan. 10, 2017, Zinke vowed to step down from his position as president of the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation after winning confirmation and refrain from participating in any matters concerning the group for one year.

Zinke won confirmation on March 1, 2017, but state records and the foundation’s 2018 annual report listed him as continuing to serve as a foundation officer months after that. Zinke later said the foundation’s report was in error.

In his ethics pledge, the interior secretary said: “I will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter involving specific parties in which I know this entity is a party or represents a party, unless I am first authorized to participate.”

Neither the Interior Department nor Zinke attorney Stephen Ryan responded to requests for comment.

Zinke’s involvement in a land development deal involving the park, backed by David Lesar, chairman of the oil services firm Halliburton, is under scrutiny from the Justice Department and the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General. The business and retail project, known as 95 Karrow, involves the construction of a parking lot on the foundation’s land and would lie near land owned by Zinke and his wife, Lola.

Don Fox, a former acting director …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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