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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke at an event in September. Photo: Andrew Harnik / AP

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reportedly booked taxpayer-funded helicopters this summer traveling to events near D.C., according to previously undisclosed travel documents obtained by Politico. He also used government vehicles to help accommodate his political events schedule.

Why it matters: Zinke is already under investigation for taking charter and military planes to political events on taxpayers' dime, including a $12,000 charter flight from Las Vegas to his hometown in Montana. Several Trump officials have also come under fire for splurging on government-funded luxury travel, which led to former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's resignation.

Details of his travel, per Politico:

  • Zinke ordered a U.S. Park Police helicopter to take him and his chief of staff Scott Hommel to an emergency management exercise in West Virginia in June. Zinke's staff said his attendance at a swearing-in ceremony for his replacement in Congress, Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.), would've kept him in D.C. past 2 p.m., too late to make the two-hour drive to the exercise.
  • The Interior's response: “The swearing in of the Congressman is absolutely an official event, as is emergency management training," Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift told Politico. “Shame on you for not respecting the office of a Member of Congress."
  • Zinke also booked a Park Police helipcopter to fly he and another Interior official to and from Yorktown, Virginia on July 7 so he could make it to a horseback ride with Vice President Mike Pence.
  • The Interior's response: An Interior employee wrote in an email obtained by Politico that the more expensive form of travel would allow the Secretary "to familiarize himself with the in-flight capabilities of an aircraft he is in charge of." He also said the Park Police staff on board would “provide an added measure of security."

Statement from Heather Swift, Press Secretary for the Department of the Interior, on the Politico report: "It's yellow journalism at its worst. After a congressional hearing, the Secretary attended an official Congressional event with the Congressman from Montana and the Speaker of the House before going to an emergency management briefing. On the other occasion he did an aerial survey of a power line corridor, which was pending before the Department, while traveling back from meetings in southern Virginia in order to get to a meeting with the Vice President."

Go deeper: The Trump officials caught splurging on luxury travel

Editor's Note: This article has been corrected to note that the email obtained by Politico was between Interior staffers.

Go deeper

Updated 6 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Shooting at Michigan high school leaves 3 dead, 8 wounded

Police cars restrict access to Oxford High School following the shooting in Oxford, Michigan, on Tuesday. Photo: Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)

A 15-year-old sophomore was arrested after a shooting at a Michigan high school that left three people dead and eight others wounded Wednesday, according to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.

The latest: Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said at a briefing Tuesday night that the suspect's father had on Friday bought the 9mm Sig Sauer pistol investigators believe was used in the shooting at Oxford High School. Authorities released the names of the victims late Tuesday.

City Council member Andre Dickens wins Atlanta mayoral race

Andre Dickens during a rally at Center Stage on November 28, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

City Council member Andre Dickens won a runoff election Tuesday to become Atlanta's next mayor, soundly beating the council's president Felicia Moore.

The big picture: Dickens was just a few months ago considered to have an outside chance of replacing Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who announced in May that she wouldn't seek a second term.

UN report: Pandemic set to cost global tourism $2 trillion in 2021

A tourist in front of the Eiffel Tower on November 25, 2021 in Paris. Photo:Chesnot/Getty Images

A new United Nations report warns that global tourism will see only modest revenue gains in 2021 after last year's historic losses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: Tourism revenues in 2020 fell by more than half from the previous year — a significant blow to the global economy, according to analysis by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).