- The Washington Times - Friday, September 29, 2017

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Friday afternoon fired back against charges he wasted taxpayer money on private flights, calling the accusations “BS” and stressing he did nothing wrong.

In a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation, the former Republican congressman from Montana said all of his private flights — including a $12,000 trip from Las Vegas to Montana — had been cleared by the department’s ethics office.

“I’d just like to address, in the words of General [Norman] Schwarzkopf, a little BS on travel,” Mr. Zinke said as he opened his remarks. “All this travel was done only after it was determined by multiple career officials at the department that no commercial options existed to meet the promulgated scheduled.”

He added that the private flights were booked only after “due diligence” by Interior’s ethics office, and after he concluded there were simply no viable commercial flight options for his travel.

The controversy is the latest in a series of administration officials, most notably Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, coming under intense fire for spending tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money on private flights. Mr. Price has said he’ll pay back some of the money spent.

Mr. Zinke did not offer such assurances on Friday.

He said that while he wants to lower costs at Interior as much as possible, he simply did nothing wrong with his travel arrangements.

“I follow the law,” he said.

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