According to Polipace.com, Ryan Zinke has been fired by Donald Trump as Secretary of Interior. Zinke’s departure comes after a tumultuous two years at the department, marked by mounting allegations of misconduct in office — including a deal he backed that helped MGM. He also faced the prospect of congressional probes after newly-elected Democrats take majority control of the House.
The feds are looking whether Zinke illegally blocked a proposal from two Connecticut Native American tribes to expand a casino because of political pressure and possible lobbying (aka donations) from MGM resorts.
A referral to the Justice Department means prosecutors will explore whether a criminal investigation is warranted. While an agency’s inspector general regularly issues reports on the findings of its inquiries, it refers cases to the Justice Department only when it has determined that there could be criminal violations.
Interior career staffers had recommended approving the tribes’ application to jointly run the casino, which would have competed with an MGM Resorts International casino across the border, in Massachusetts. But MGM and two Nevada senators lobbied against the permit, and in the end, Zinke did not grant it.
Representatives of the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes also have filed a lawsuit alleging that Mr. Zinke’s decision “was the product of improper political influence.”