Ex-Interior chief Zinke cleared of illegal politicking

WASHINGTON (AP) — A government watchdog says former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke didn’t engage in illegal political activity when he went to Pennsylvania about a year ago to announce federal grants shortly before a special House election.

The Office of Special Counsel released its finding this week clearing Zinke, saying the coal dump site where Zinke announced nationwide grants, including $55 million for Pennsylvania, to clean up mines was an appropriate choice.

A federal law known as the Hatch Act bars executive branch officials from engaging in political activities.

Federal officials were asked to examine whether Zinke made the government-funded trip to boost the GOP candidate, who ended up losing the race.

President Donald Trump announced Zinke’s resignation as interior chief in December. Other investigations related to Zinke’s tenure are continuing.

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