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STATEMENT and TIMELINE on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Private Flight to Montana

DENVER—News broke Thursday night that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke joins the ranks of HHS Secretary Tom Price and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who flew private flights in lieu of commercial at taxpayer expense.

In Secretary Zinke’s case, the most egregious case of private travel occurred on June 26th, when the secretary opted against flying commercial to spend an evening with the Las Vegas professional hockey team—a team owned by Bill Foley, chairman of Fidelity National Financial, which happens to be Secretary Zinke’s largest campaign contributor over the course of his career. Zinke then took a private plane to his home in Whitefish, Montana.

The night before, Zinke flew from Washington to Lake Tahoe for an event with the Rule of Law Defense Fund, a dark-money group sponsored by the Koch brothers which supports Republican attorneys general. According to the Secretary’s travel schedule, he was seated at a table with lobbyists from Koch Industries, the NRA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Center for Western Priorities issued the following statement from Media Director Aaron Weiss:

“Here’s another case of a Trump administration official wining and dining with donors, lobbyists, and executives at the expense of taxpayers. Secretary Zinke’s entire Nevada trip was a flimsy excuse for a political event in Lake Tahoe and a thank-you meeting with his biggest campaign bundler. Then he saddles taxpayers with the bill for a private plane when he could have easily flown commercial.”


JUNE 25, 2017:

  • 6:35 am — Zinke flies from Washington to Reno with Interior staff

  • 1:50–6:00 pm — Zinke spends an afternoon of personal time at Lake Tahoe

  • 6:00 pm — Zinke attends Rule of Law Defense Fund dinner. At Zinke’s table: NRA lobbyists Randy Kozuch and Lacey Biles; Koch Industries lobbyist Allen Richardson; U.S. Chamber of Commerce VP Page Faulk

JUNE 26, 2017:

  • 10:25 am — Zinke and staff fly from Reno to Las Vegas

  • 2:00 pm–3:20 pm — Zinke holds photo op in Pahrump, Nevada

  • 5:30–7:30 pm — Zinke attends dinner and gives motivational speech to Las Vegas Golden Knights NHL team, where he is introduced by team owner and major donor Bill Foley, Chairman of Fidelity National Financial

  • 6:50 pm — Final commercial flight connecting to Whitefish (Delta 2140/1144) departs Las Vegas

  • 8:30 pm — Having stayed with Foley past the departure time of the final commercial flight connecting to Whitefish, Zinke flies from Las Vegas to Whitefish on a private plane at taxpayer expense

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