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Emails Suggest Ryan Zinke Violated Ethics Pledge: Report

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke continued to engage in discussions about the use of his family foundation’s property in Montana despite pledging he would recuse himself from such matters, emails obtained by The Washington Post show. In an August 2017 email exchange with David Taylor—the city planner for Whitefish, Montana—Zinke reportedly authorized Taylor to build a “disc-golf course” on Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation’s property. Zinke also told Taylor that he was in discussions with a developer over building a parking lot on the land. In an ethics pledge signed in January 2017, Zinke reportedly vowed to step down as president of the foundation and refrain from participating in the group’s matters for a year. State records reportedly listed Zinke as an officer of the foundation months after his confirmation, but Zinke later said the records were wrong. The development of a parking lot on the foundation’s land is also reportedly part of a land deal backed by Halliburton chairman, David J. Lesar. The Post reports the land development deal is currently “under scrutiny” by the Justice Department and Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General.