Interior Department Watchdog Opens Probe Into Zinke Real Estate Deal With Halliburton Chairman

The Interior Department inspector general has opened a probe into a real estate deal involving a foundation that Secretary Ryan Zinke established and a development company owned by Halliburton oil company chairman David Lesar. Politico reports that House Democrats requested the IG look into the deal, in which the foundation hired Lesar’s developers to “build a parking lot there to benefit a major redevelopment project that could raise the land value of Zinke’s nearby properties.” As secretary, Zinke oversees oil drilling within the U.S., and Halliburton is “one of the world’s largest fracking and offshore drilling services companies.” While Zinke’s wife, Lola, who took over the foundation after Zinke got the job as secretary, signed off on the deal, House Democrats asked if Zinke was using his position for personal gain in the deal. The secretary was previously investigated for his previous use of chartered flights, for giving a speech to a donor’s hockey team, and for attending fundraisers in the Virgin Islands.