U.S. Interior chief's $12,000 charter flight 'could have been avoided': watchdog

(Reuters) - U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke took an unnecessary charter flight in June that cost taxpayers over $12,000, the Interior Department's internal watchdog said on Monday - travel linked to his visit to a professional hockey team in Nevada.

The report from the department's Office of Inspector General came amid mounting pressure on Trump Cabinet officials over their ethics and spending habits while in office.

"We determined that Zinke’s use of chartered flights in fiscal year (FY) 2017 generally followed relevant law, policy, rules, and regulations," the report said.

"We found, however, that a $12,375 chartered flight he took in June 2017 after speaking at the developmental camp for the Golden Knights, a professional hockey team based in Las Vegas, Nevada, could have been avoided," it added.

The National Hockey League team is owned by Bill Foley, a donor to Zinke’s congressional campaigns. The Interior Department has said Zinke's speech did not violate any laws, rules or regulations.

Zinke has defended his use of noncommercial aircraft as necessary for reaching the remote parts of the country that his department oversees.

He has also taken heat for other spending, including the repair of a door in his office that cost nearly $140,000.

Other Cabinet members have also been scrutinized.

The U.S. Government Accountability office on Monday said the Environmental Protection Agency violated spending laws when it installed a $43,000 soundproof booth for agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.

(Writing by Richard Valdmanis; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Must Read

Global stocks dip ahead of release of Fed minutes

Aug 17, 2016

Global stocks and the price of oil dipped Wednesday as investors awaited the release of the minutes to the Federal Reserve's latest meeting for hints on when the next interest rate increase might come

Hong Kong airline Cathay's 1H profit tumbles 82 percent

Aug 17, 2016

Cathay Pacific Airways' profit tumbled in the first half of the year as economic weakness in China and other important markets cut passenger demand while it faced cutthroat competition from rivals

Are France's burkini bans sexist, or liberating?

Aug 17, 2016

Male officials are dictating what women can wear on French beaches _ and people across a wide swath of French society say that's a good thing

Search

Obserworld delivers the most accurate and up-to-date world news for the global audience with a thorough research and in-depth interviews. Discover the world through Obserworld.

Contact us: sales[at]obserworld.com