Group ques­tions Zinke cam­paign funds

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

BILLINGS, Mont. — A po­lit­i­cal watch­dog or­ga­ni­za­tion ac­cused the dor­mant con­gres­sional cam­paign of U.S. In­te­rior Sec­re­tary Ryan Zinke on Mon­day of skirt­ing con­tri­bu­tion laws when it sold a mo­tor home to a friend of Zinke at a steep dis­count.

The Cam­paign Le­gal Cen­ter com­plaint to the Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion also ac­cused Zinke’s cam­paign of fail­ing to re­port the iden­tity of con­trib­u­tors and of us­ing cam­paign funds for Zinke’s per­sonal use af­ter he was con­firmed into Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s Cabi­net.

In Au­gust, The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported the cam­paign bought the 2004 mo­tor home from Zinke’s wife for $59,000 in 2016 and sold it ear­lier this year to a Zinke friend in the Mon­tana Leg­is­la­ture for $25,000.

The com­plaint says the cam­paign either over­paid Zinke’s wife or gave a sweet­heart deal to the buyer, state Sen. Ed­ward But­trey.

“Con­vert­ing funds for per­sonal use, it’s like a kick­back of sorts. It’s a real is­sue here.” Cam­paign Le­gal Cen­ter spokesman Corey Gold­stone said.

In­te­rior spokesman Heather Swift — who was also Zinke’s spokesman dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign— said the de­part­ment can­not weigh in on po­lit­i­cal mat­ters and de­clined fur­ther com­ment.

The Cam­paign Le­gal Cen­ter tar­geted Zinke with pre­vi­ous com­plaints in 2014 — the year he was first elected to Congress — and again ear­lier this month. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Zinke de­nied any wrong­do­ing by him or his cam­paign in the pre­vi­ous cases.

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