ZINKE CALLS to Alaskans draw look by watch­dog.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - MATTHEW DALY

WASH­ING­TON — The In­te­rior Depart­ment’s in­ter­nal watch­dog is ex­am­in­ing phone calls to Alaska’s Repub­li­can se­na­tors from In­te­rior Sec­re­tary Ryan Zinke seek­ing sup­port for the GOP health care bill.

Deputy In­spec­tor Gen­eral Mary Ken­dall said her of­fice was launch­ing a “pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion” of Zinke’s July 26 calls to Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sul­li­van. The Alaska Dis­patch News re­ported that Zinke warned the se­na­tors of reper­cus­sions for their state if Murkowski failed to sup­port the bill.

Murkowski was one of three Re­pub­li­cans to vote against the bill, which later failed in the Se­nate. She said last week that she did not con­sider the call from Zinke a threat.

Demo­cratic Reps. Frank Pal­lone of New Jer­sey and Raul Gri­jalva of Ari­zona asked Ken­dall and the Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fice to re­view Zinke’s ac­tions, which they said ap­peared to be part of an “or­ga­nized ef­fort within the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion in­volv­ing the use of fed­eral re­sources to ad­vance par­ti­san leg­is­la­tion.”

A spokesman for Zinke de­clined to com­ment Fri­day.

Zinke has called the no­tion that he threat­ened Murkowski “laugh­able.”

On Thurs­day, he tweeted a photo of him­self and Murkowski smil­ing over Alaskan beers at his Wash­ing­ton home. “I say din­ner, she says brews. My friends know me well,” Zinke wrote, adding a beer emoji and “thanks” to Murkowski.

Murkowski is chair­man of the Se­nate En­ergy and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Com­mit­tee, which has say over In­te­rior Depart­ment busi­ness and nom­i­na­tions, and leads a Se­nate Ap­pro­pri­a­tions sub­com­mit­tee with author­ity over the In­te­rior Depart­ment’s bud­get.

The en­ergy com­mit­tee ap­proved three depart­ment nom­i­nees Thurs­day, hours af­ter the gath­er­ing at Zinke’s home, as well as two nom­i­nees for the En­ergy Depart­ment.

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