Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke slammed Rep. Raul Grijalva and his “drunken” behavior Friday after the top environmental Democrat wrote an op-ed calling for his resignation.
“It’s hard for him to think straight from the bottom of the bottle,” Mr. Zinke posted on Twitter. “This is coming from a man who used nearly $50,000 in tax dollars as hush money to cover up his drunken and hostile behavior.”
Mr. Zinke demanded that Mr. Grijalva, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, resign and refund the money the Interior Department has used on investigations.
Mr. Grijalva, who is in line in the next Congress to become chairman of the committee, which oversees the Interior Department, published a piece in USA Today highlighting several scandals surrounding the interior secretary, including a connection between Mr. Zinke’s family and a project called 95 Karrow. The deal is being investigated by the department’s inspector general.
The Arizonan also harshly criticized Mr. Zinke’s work as head of the Interior Department and accused him “dumbing down” science in pursuit of the president’s agenda.
“Federal agencies cannot function without credible leadership, and he offers none. He needs to resign,” Mr. Grijalva wrote.
The Washington Times reported last year that Mr. Grijalva quietly arranged a nearly $50,000 “severance package” to hush up a top staffer who threatened a lawsuit claiming the Arizona Democrat was frequently drunk and created a hostile work environment.
House Employment Counsel, which acts as the attorney for all House offices, arranged the deal in 2015. The payout of taxpayer dollars totaled $48,395 — five additional months’ salary — to the female aide, who left her job after three months. She didn’t pursue the hostile workplace complaint further.
The arrangement appeared to run contrary to House rules that constrain severance packages, The Times reported.
A legitimate severance package also should be paid in a lump sum and reported separately, according to House rules.
• S.A. Miller contributed to this report
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.