WASHINGTON D.C. – The Justice Department is examining whether former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lied to his agency’s inspector general investigators, according to an article published Thursday in the Washington Post.
Zinke was facing two inspector general inquiries tied to his real estate dealings in his hometown of Whitefish and his involvement in reviewing a proposed casino project by Native American tribes in Connecticut.
According to the Post, in the course of that work, inspector general investigators came to believe Zinke had lied to them and they referred the matter to the Justice Department to consider whether any laws were violated.
Zinke told The Associated Press that he’d told the truth to investigators.
The Justice Department’s interest in the matter is significant, signaling prosecutors felt Zinke’s account was suspect and warranted further scrutiny. Department officials have not yet decided, though, whether he should face charges, people familiar with the matter said to the Washington Post.
A spokesperson for Zinke said he had not been contacted by the Justice Department and that disclosures about the matter violated inspector general and Justice Department protocols.