Another one of President Trump's Cabinet members has taken a free-spending approach to taxpayer money on job-related expenses, a new report says.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke spent $139,000 last year on construction of what a work order calls "Secretary's Door," the Associated Press reported on Thursday. Zinke's spokesperson wouldn't say whether changes had been made to a door somehow related to Zinke. The contractor that records say did the work, Contract Solutions LLC, hung up the phone when asked about Zinke's office, the AP said.
Last fall, Zinke raised eyebrows after the Washington Post reported he had agency coins made with his face on them, and a personal flag made to be raised outside the Interior Department when he was in the building and lowered when he was not.
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Zinke is the third member of Trump's cabinet who has been questioned for lavish spending of taxpayer money, the second member in two weeks. Zinke spent $53,000 on three helicopter rides last year, including one that cost $6,250 to go horseback riding with Vice President Mike Pence. The inspector general is investigating.
Those aren't the only times Zinke has been scrutinized for misuse of government funds. In the late '90s, the Navy officer was officially reprimanded and required to repay federal money he spent on restorations to his childhood home in Montana.
Controversy over the spending of Trump and his cabinet is not new. In October, it was reported that President Trump spent $1.75 million on furnishings for the Oval Office and offices tied to it. (Former President Obama spent $1.5 million in a similar amount of time, and paid for some expenses out of pocket.)
On Feb. 27, it was reported that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson spent $31,561 on a conference table — the equivalent of 211 HUD homes. The same day, it was reported that a former senior official in the Office of Housing and Urban Development is contending she was demoted after refusing to illegally exceed the budget to redecorate Carson's office. According to a federal complaint Helen Foster filed, when she told a superior that the legal spending limit on office decor was $5,000, she was told "$5,000 will not even buy a decent chair."
In September, Tom Price resigned as the Secretary of Health and Human Services after taking more than $1 million in taxpayer-funded private flights. Cabinet members usually fly commercial or take Amtrak. In January, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was revealed to have requested a $25,000-an-hour Air Force jet to Europe for his honeymoon. (The request was denied.) And last December, Congress questioned EPA chief Scott Pruitt over his spending of $25,000 on a soundproof booth for his office, something no EPA official has had before. Pruitt said the booth was a SCIF, or secure communications facility. Former EPA officials said the purchase didn't make sense: The EPA rarely handles government secrets, and although Pruitt said he needed to talk securely with the White House, the Oval Office is only two blocks away.