Did Ryan Zinke Defraud the Government?

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Matthew Cole at the Intercept reports that Rep. Ryan Zinke, Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of the interior, submitted several bogus travel vouchers back in the ’90s, when he was an officer at SEAL Team 6. It turns out he was traveling to Montana not to “scout for training locations,” but to renovate a house he planned to live in after he retired. He was warned to knock it off.

So far this seems pretty minor. It was nearly 20 years ago, and hardly amounted to a major felony. But then there’s this:

After Zinke was caught and warned, he continued to travel home and submit the expenses to the Navy. The offense would normally have been serious enough to have ended Zinke’s career, but senior officers at SEAL Team 6 did not formally punish him…[Instead] he was told he would not be allowed to return to the elite unit for future assignments, according to the sources. Zinke continued his career, and he was eventually promoted to Navy commander, the rank he retired at in 2008.

So the guy was caught, confessed, warned to stop, and then went right on doing it? If that’s really how it happened, it demonstrates a dedication to corruption a little more serious than the odd bit of expense account twiddling. I guess that makes him perfect for the Trump administration.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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