The Interior Department’s inspector general opened an investigation a month ago into Zinke’s land dealings in his home state of Montana – what Grijalva said was at least 17th investigation into Zinke since he was named secretary last year.
The probe focuses on whether Zinke used his position as secretary to increase the value of land his family owns in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana, by dealing with local developers and officials at Halliburton, an oil contractor.
Other investigations of Zinke have looked into whether he ordered climate change reports censored by the department, reports that the agency would spend $139,000 on three set of office doors and whether he was inappropriately promoting Make America Great Again socks.
Zinke has also been accused of using taxpayer dollars to fund trips on private jets, taking inappropriate amounts of leave and providing government perks to his wife.
The negative publicity may have attracted the attention of the White House, with published reports indicating that Zinke is among a hanful of Cabinet secretaries the president is eyeing for replacement.
In his editorial, Grijalva said Zinke has not answered to any of the scandals, and “this silence is insulting to the American people.” He said stepping down to allow for some damage control is the least Zinke could do.
Grijalva also criticized Zinke’s management of the department, which has included the downsizing of national monuments like Bears Ears and plans to cut “thousands” of permanent positions, among other changes.
Grijlava said a resignation would not get rid of the philosophy that permeates the department, but he still thinks it is important for the Natural Resources Committee to take a stand.
“This is, I think, an alert to the Interior that we’re going to hold them accountable regardless,” Grijalva said late Friday morning. “We’re going to question that philosophy.”
When contacted for comment, an Interior spokeswoman said only that “The Secretary’s statement speaks for itself.”
Grijalva said Zinke’s tweet appeared to be aimed at deflecting serious policy issues with personal attacks.
“The American people know who I’m here to serve, and they know in whose interests I’m acting,” Grijalva said in a statement Friday. “They don’t know the same about Secretary Zinke.”