Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis at WP:
Revelations about repeated use of chartered airplanes forced the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in September. More recently, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has continued to wrestle with the fallout of news that taxpayers covered the expenses for his wife during a 10-day trip to Europe last year — and more recently that his chief of staff doctored an email and made false statements to justify the payments.Graham Lanktree at Newsweek:
Meanwhile, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has faced public criticism and the scrutiny of government investigators for his own frequent first-class travels and for other expenditures he made using public funding. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that records showed a soundproof phone booth installed in Pruitt’s office cost $43,000 — $18,000 more than previously disclosed.
At the Interior Department, Secretary Ryan Zinke has faced inquiries about his travel practices, and last fall an official in the agency’s inspector general office wrote that Zinke had failed to properly document his trips since taking office.
And at HUD, public records released this week detail how [Secretary Ben] Carson’s wife was closely involved in the redecorating of his office at the agency, including the purchase of a $31,561 dining set.
Trump’s Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, has argued that he never took a private jet, because the planes he travelled on had propellers. He made the bizarre statement Tuesday as he faced questions in Congress about his spending of taxpayer dollars for a series of chartered flights.Jon Swaine at The Guardian:
“I never took a private jet anywhere,” Zinke told Sen. Maria Cantwell, the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, when she pressed him about three flights, including a $12,375 flight he made last spring from Las Vegas to Kalispell near his hometown in Montana.
Zinke pointed out that the plane, a Beechcraft King Air 200 owned by oil and gas executives, and the aircraft used during the other two flights, didn’t have jet engines but were driven by propellers.
He said he was a multimillionaire – an international property developer with a plan to fix America’s cities through radical privatization. He felt that Donald Trump’s administration was where he was meant to work.
“It was a natural fit,” Naved Jafry said in an interview. Citing connections across the military, business and academia, he said: “I bring, and draw on, experiences from different areas of knowledge, like a polymath.”
Jafry was contracted to work for Trump’s housing and urban development department (Hud). His government email signature said his title was senior adviser. Jafry said he used his role to advocate for “microcities”, where managers privately set their own laws and taxes away from central government control.
But those plans are now stalled. Jafry, 38, said he had resigned from his position with Hud after the Guardian asked him to explain multiple allegations of fraud as well as exaggerations in his biography.
Jafry, who has also been known by Jafari and Jafri, apologised for inflating his military record but denied making other false claims. He said he resigned because the Guardian’s questions tarnished his reputation inside Hud.