Report: Investigation launched in Zinke Whitefish land deal

Posted at 8:44 AM, Jul 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-19 10:44:08-04

WASHINGTON, DC- A real estate deal between Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the chairman of the oil field service company Halliburton is now the subject of a formal investigation by the Interior Department’s Inspector General.

According to the online newspaper The Hill, the investigation will focus on a Montana-based commercial development that Zinke is poised to benefit from financially.

The investigation centers on a real estate deal involving Zinke, his wife, his daughter and Halliburton Chairman David Lesar in Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish. Secretary Zinke, a former Montana congressman, initially proposed the development in 2012.

The Inspector General’s office confirmed last month it was looking into the matter, and on Wednesday confirmed its formal investigation.

Citing emails that showed Secretary Zinke met with the Halliburton Chairman and Montana developer Casey Malmquist at his Interior offices last August. Three Democratic lawmakers called for an investigation.

This is the latest in a series of Inspector General investigations into Zinke’s conduct as Interior Secretary. Last year, the Inspector General found Zinke had failed to properly document his travel

Another investigation is looking into accusations that some Interior employees were improperly reassigned.

MTN News has reached out to Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift for comment. Swift had previously said the land deal was not a departmental matter and declined further comment.