“The American people must be able to trust that Department of the Interior decisions that affect the nation’s welfare on a daily basis are not compromised by individual self-enrichment,” wrote Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), and Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) in a letter earlier this year, urging Kendall to investigate the deal.

Kendall has also probed Zinke’s travel since he took office in March 2017, releasing a report this month showing that ethics officials within his agency had grown concerned over the fact that Zinke’s wife traveled with him on taxpayer-funded trips. The Trump administration is currently searching for its own appointee to replace Kendall, who has worked in the department since 1999.

Another ongoing investigation involving the secretary deals with a casino deal in Connecticut which he stopped from being completed after two Nevada senators lobbied against the project, which had been proposed by two Native American tribes. The casino would have competed with an MGM casino across the state border in Massachusetts, according to the groups that lobbied against it.

The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, which are hoping to reopen a lawsuit against Zinke, argued in a court filing earlier this month that Zinke’s decision not to approve the project was the result of “improper political influence.”

Despite the fact that Zinke’s case has been referred by an official in an independent, nonpartisan position—who has worked in the federal government under Republican and Democratic presidents since 1986—Zinke hastily denounced the investigation as “politically driven” on Tuesday, drawing criticism on social media.

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