Interior Department’s inspector general looking into Zinke land deal in Whitefish

Posted at 8:26 AM, Jun 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-29 10:26:05-04

WASHINGTON, DC – The Interior Department’s inspector general will review Secretary Ryan Zinke’s involvement in a Whitefish land deal that has raised conflict of interest questions.

Secretary Zinke and his wife Lola are involved in a land deal in Whitefish with the head of Houston-based energy services giant Halliburton, which does business with the Interior Department.

 As first reported by Bloomberg News, House Democrats have asked — and the watchdog office agreed — to look into the matter as to whether Secretary Zinke used his office for personal financial gain.

Internal emails show that Secretary Zinke met with Halliburton’s chairman and a Montana developer last August.

A charitable foundation created by Secretary Zinke — and now run by his wife — is allowing a company co-owned by the Halliburton chairman and his family to use a portion of its land for development, according to a letter of intent signed by Lola Zinke.

Immediately adjacent to that land is an abandoned mill that is the site of Lesar’s planned hotel, microbrewery, art gallery and office space.

Secretary Zinke spokeswoman Heather Swift told CBS News last week that the land deal between the ZInke’s foundation and Halliburton "is not a departmental matter."