On July 7, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had a late-afternoon date to ride horses with Mike Pence in Washington, D.C. But earlier that morning he had meetings in Yorktown, Pennsylvania, leaving him two choices: Drive six hours round-trip and miss the chance to bond with the VP, or take a helicopter and send the bill to the taxpayers.
Little surprise that Zinke went with the latter. Politico reports that the flight cost about $6,250. An Interior spokesperson justified it by saying that using a U.S. Park Police helicopter allowed Zinke “to familiarize himself with the in-flight capabilities of an aircraft he is in charge of.” That excuse might be halfway believable if the former Montana congressman hadn’t already made it clear that, like many of his Trump administration colleagues, he prefers faster, more expensive modes of travel.
A former Navy SEAL, Zinke arrived in the Trump administration with a reputation as a rugged outdoorsman, but that’s taken some hits since entering office. Along with his appreciation of private air travel, Zinke has a soft spot for some of the more over-the-top rituals practiced by Cabinet secretaries. He’s also shown that he’s not quite as adept at the whole man’s-man thing as he’d like people to think.