Zinke had a tumultuous tenure as chief steward of America’s natural resources, facing nearly 20 federal investigations ― one of which his agency’s internal watchdog recently referred to the Justice Department for possible criminal violations ― and besieged by a steady drumbeat of unfavorable headlines.
…Zinke pegged himself as a champion of public lands and a conservationist in the mold of President Theodore Roosevelt. [But then] he cozied up to fossil fuel interests, embraced sweeping budget cuts that his boss proposed, and prioritized Trump’s “energy dominance” agenda over habitat and resource conservation.
Theodore Roosevelt IV told HuffPost last year that his great-grandfather would have condemned the job Zinke had done and that many in the Roosevelt family were angry that Zinke repeatedly invoked their ancestor to misrepresent his own actions.
…[Zinke] came under fire after proposing to open nearly all U.S. waters to offshore drilling, only to turn around and almost immediately remove waters off the coast of Florida from the plan.
…Zinke supported drilling in Alaska’s pristine and fragile Arctic National Wildlife Refuge …and proposed drastically hiking entrance fees at 17 of America’s most popular national parks.
…Like several other members of Trump’s Cabinet, Zinke was the target of numerous ethics probes. He billed taxpayers for his use of private charter planes and government helicopters (instead of taking commercial flights) on at least three occasions ― a controversy Zinke characterized as “a little BS.”
…the Interior Department’s inspector general determined that Zinke had violated government travel policies by bringing his wife along on taxpayer-funded trips. That probe found that Zinke had asked staff to explore making her a department volunteer, a move that would have legitimized her travel.
…Deputy Secretary Bernhardt is not without his own apparent conflicts of interests. As HuffPost reported, he’s met on several occasions with lobbyists for MGM Resorts International, the casino-resort giant that his longtime former employer also represents.
In fact, Bernhardt has so many potential conflicts of interest that he carries a list around with him.