Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke poses with Rebecca Benally, a commissioner for San Juan County in Utah, at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City on December 4, 2017. Photo: Tami A. Heilemann / U.S. Department of the Interior

Secretary Zinke defends use of government helicopters for trips near Washington

Secretary Ryan Zinke spent more than $14,000 on government helicopters over the summer, POLITICO reports.

POLITICO obtained travel logs from the Department of the Interior showing that Zinke and his staff justified the use of helicopters in order for him to get to events near Washington, D.C. One trip to West Virginia cost taxpayers $8,000 while the other to Virginia cost $6,250, according to the news organization.

Zinke has derided questions about his government-funded travel as "bull." His job requires him to travel to remote parts of Indian Country, as well as national parks, monuments and other areas of federal lands, some of which are difficult to reach. His predecessors all engaged in similar types of travel.

Still, the Office of Inspector General at Interior is looking into the circumstances of his trips. One was connected to a "motivational speech" he gave to a hockey team in Nevada. The flight cost taxpayers $12,375, according to news reports.

Zinke's top deputy has blamed a "dysfunctional" records-keeping system after the Inspector General issued a "management advisory" to his office last month, seeking more documentation of the secretary's travel.

Read More on the Story:
Zinke booked government helicopters to attend D.C. events (POLITICO December 7, 2017)

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