Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke ordered a Park Police helicopter to fly him to and from Yorktown, Va., on July 7 in order to be back in D.C. in time for a 4 p.m. horseback ride with Vice President Pence.— Sudeep Reddy (@Reddy) December 8, 2017
The trip cost taxpayers about $6,250. https://t.co/HvUZWQ16s1 via @bjlefebvre
President Donald Trump and the people of his administration have a habit of using taxpayer money for personal trips.
Now, it has emerged Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reportedly spent thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to travel to and from Washington, D.C., and in one of the incidents, traveled to enjoy a horseback ride with Vice President Mike Pence.
According to documents obtained by Politico, Zinke cited his schedule and timing as justification for the flights, which added up to approximately $14,000.
Zinke and his staff also reportedly used charter or military planes multiple times to attend events in Montana and the Caribbean Islands.
The documents also revealed Zinke ordered an $8,000 flight and for U.S. Park Police to take him and his chief to an exercise in West Virginia. He added it wasn’t possible for him to take the road because the two couldn’t leave before 2 p.m., as they had to attend another event, which would have made them late.
In another incident, Zinke scheduled a $6,250 round-trip helicopter flight because he had to tour a battlefield and attend a boating industry roundtable and return just in time for a horseback ride with Pence.
It would have been a three-hour journey if Zinke had taken a road trip.
Zinke’s office, obviously, denied the claims and said all of the trips were official businesses.
“Shame on you for not respecting the office of a member of Congress,” said Heather Swift, a spokeswoman for the Interior secretary.
Although it is right that some of the trips were made to attend official events, what makes it important and more absurd is that he could have easily opted for a road trip.
However, this isn’t the first time it has been revealed that Trump aides have used taxpayers' money to travel.
In July, Trump's U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Chief Scott Pruitt used taxpayer money to travel to and from his home state of Oklahoma. According to documents, he was in Oklahoma on at least 43 of the 92 days of March, April and May.
In a similar incident, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price reportedly flew in private jets for five separate business trips last week, despite the availability of much cheaper commercial flights.
Ryan Zinke spent more than $14,000 on government helicopters this summer to take himself and staff to and from official events near Washington, D.C., according to previously undisclosed official travel documents per Politico. https://t.co/PLwSVPtQIR— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) December 8, 2017
Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters, Kevin Lamarque