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UPDATED: Interior Secretary Zinke To Be Investigated For Threats To Alaska Senators


Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reportedly will be investigated for urging Alaska's U.S. senators to vote for repeal of the Affordable Care Act or face the consequences of less federal support.

Editor's note: This updates with details from the OIG letter.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who leaned on Alaska's U.S. senators in a bid to secure their votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, will be investigated by his department's Office of Inspector General for possible ethical and/or legal violations.

Secretary Zinke placed phone calls to U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan late last month to urge them to vote for repeal or be prepared for a little less help from Interior on issues key to Alaska.

"I'm not going to go into the details, but I fear that the strong economic growth, pro-energy, pro-mining, pro-jobs and personnel from Alaska who are part of those policies are going to stop," Sen. Sullivan, who voted for repeal, told the Alaska Dispatch News in describing his conversation with Secretary Zinke. "I tried to push back on behalf of all Alaskans. … We're facing some difficult times and there's a lot of enthusiasm for the policies that Secretary Zinke and the president have been talking about with regard to our economy. But the message was pretty clear."

Sen. Murkowski was one of three Republicans to vote against repeal. The others were Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine.

OIG staff sent letters late Thursday to both U.S. Reps. Raul Grijalva and Frank Pallone, the top Democrats on the House committees on natural resources and energy, respectively, to announce that they would look into what the Democrats perceived as threats against the senators.

Rep. Grijalva had asked the OIG on July 27, the day after Secretary Zinke called the senators, to investigate the matter.

The phone calls, the Arizona Democrat said at the time, were "an alarming sign of how far the administration’s ethical standards have fallen and how irresponsible the Interior Department has become."

The letter sent to the representatives was short and brief, essentially a confirmation that OIG would look into Rep. Grijalva's concerns.

"You requested that the Office of Inspector General for DOI investigate this matter and address a number of potential legal and ethical violations," said the letter, a copy of which the Traveler obtained Friday evening. "The OIG is undertaking a preliminary investigation into this matter. We will advise you about what further action the results of this inquiry lead the OIG to take."




The Drumpf administration is providing more entertainment than a whole flock of late night comedians.

Pathetic, isn't it? 


I guess I'm missing something. This sounds like politics as usual to me. Doesn't This happen every day on both sides of the isle?

Usually they're a little more subtle about this kind of crap than these clowns are.


It's not "politics as usual." It's unethical and/or illegal for administration officials to lobby Congress, especially on legislation outside the purview of their department. Healthcare reform isn't in Interior's portfolio. The fact that it's all over the news indicates that doesn't "happen every day on both sides of the isle [sic]."

Attempted heavying, but clumsy and inept.


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