Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Tuesday got testy pushing back on assertions that he had taken a private jet for any official travel.
During a budget hearing before the Senate Natural Resources Committee, Zinke said he “never took a private jet anywhere” in response to Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell’s questions referencing his travel practices and $140,000 in expenditures for new doors leveraged against a budget that aims to raise admission fees to national parks.
Zinke detailed three different trips on chartered prop planes — without mentioning the private jet trip in question — before railing into Cantwell.
“Insults, innuendo are misleading. I never took a private jet anywhere,” Zinke told Cantwell. “I resent the fact of your insults, I resent the fact that they’re misleading, I resent the fact the doors.”
The Inspector General is reviewing Zinke’s travel practices, including the one directed to Zinke by Cantwell regarding a trip to Las Vegas to meet with the Golden Knights NHL team.
The closest Zinke got was saying he took a prop plane “late at night after traveling all across Nevada.”
Zinke then referenced the Interior secretary from the Obama administration.
“Sally Jewell I think she was right. I think her travel patterns, even though she took a private chartered airplane, was met by helicopters, did a hike, as Interior she was out hiking and doing what she was supposed to be doing,” Zinke told the committee.
Cantwell was unmoved, saying she would ask about the private jet to Vegas in writing at a future time.
“We’re looking at the larger issue of how time and money are spent. … We’ll ask you again for the written record and hopefully we’ll get a more succinct answer,” Cantwell said.
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