Government investigators say former U.S. Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke misused his position to advance a development project in his Montana hometown and lied to an agency ethics official about his involvement.
The Interior Department’s inspector general said in a report made public Wednesday that Zinke continued working with a foundation on the commercial project in the community of Whitefish, Montana even after he committed upon taking office to breaking ties with the foundation.
The report also says Zinke gave incorrect and incomplete information to an Interior Department ethics official who confronted him over his involvement and that Zinke directed his staff to assist him with the project in a misuse of his position.
The Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation was established by Zinke and others in 2007. Zinke and his wife were in negotiations with private developers for the use of foundation land for a commercial development project.
Zinke is a candidate in the June Republican primary for an open Montana Congressional seat, a position he held prior to joining Donald Trump’s cabinet.
Zinke’s campaign called the report “a political hit job” and said his family’s involvement in the land deal led to the creation of a children’s sledding park.