First it was HHS Secretary Tom Price's private-jet binge, which eventually ended his political career; then it was the $1MM+ pricetage for paid protester Mike Pence's football game stunt, and now it's Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke who traveled on the taxpayer's nickel and then keynoted $5000-a-head GOP fundraisers and other non-government business.
Those trips are in addition to a widely reported trip to Las Vegas, where Zinke met with the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team, owned by billionaire businessman Bill Foley, whom Zinke called "a major donor" when he was running for Congress in 2014.
It remains unclear whether any laws were broken, but ethics watchdog groups say Zinke's official travel mixed with political activity are at the very least bad optics.
"To be a secretary of a department you would think the initial focus in the first year in office would be getting the department organized and initiatives taken care of," said Virginia Canter, the executive branch ethics counsel for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "What's a bit unusual here is so quickly after getting into office Zinke is quickly engaged in political activity. It is a distraction."
Zinke's travel continues to raise ethical questions
[Rene Marsh and Gregory Wallace/CNN]