Thursday, August 02, 2018

Interior IG to scrutinize Zinke’s beer-making plans

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke made no secret of his dream of opening a microbrewery in his hometown of Whitefish. Now, the department’s inspector general will be asking whether he colluded to have the chairman of Halliburton, one of the leading companies with business before the department, build him one. In Whitefish, brewers and city officials told POLITICO that Zinke has long sought to build a microbrewery of his own, a project that over six years led him to submit plans to the City Council, discuss the move with other business leaders and personally join in a review process to change local zoning laws to make them more hospitable to such a business. Meanwhile, a planned development in Whitefish backed by David Lesar, the chairman of Halliburton — the nation’s largest oil services company, which would be one of the biggest winners in the Interior Department’s drive to roll back regulations — includes plans for just such a microbrewery. The Interior Department IG's office announced in late July that it is investigating Zinke’s dealings with Lesar, a purview that ethics specialists say will include questions about the brewery. Ethics rules bar officials from using their official contacts to set up “nests” for their post-government lives, and the microbrewery was a focus of both the ethics watchdogs and the House Democrats who requested the investigation after POLITICO first reported on Zinke’s links to Lesar...MORE

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