President Donald Trump announced, in a tweet on the morning of December 15, that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the head of the giant agency that oversees federal lands, and that makes the rules for oil and gas drilling on those lands, is stepping down after nearly two years.
The Office of Inspector General for the Interior Department has investigated several matters in which Zinke might have misused his office or broken conflict-of-interest regs. In late October, the IG referred one of these matters to the Department of Justice for possible criminal prosecution.
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One of the most egregious of the Zinke scandals involves Halliburton, a giant drilling-services company that stands to profit from favorable Interior Department decisions. The website Politico, in June, ran a detailed account of a business relationship between Zinke and Halliburton’s chairman, Dave Lesar.
That relationship involves land owned by a foundation Zinke and his wife created. The land sits within a resort area in Montana where a developer, backed by Lesar, wants to build a parking lot. As if to emphasize the possibility of conflict, Zinke once met with Lesar in his office in the Interior Department’s headquarters to discuss the plot of land in question.