Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke holds shares in a private Montana firearms company that he did not disclose when nominated by President Donald Trump, HuffPost reports.
Zinke and PROOF Research Inc., the company that makes and sells firearms and materials for advanced weapons, both confirmed his holdings in the company. Though, they both claimed that his holdings were worth less than $1,000, which would put it "far below the reporting thresholds for the executive branch," according to Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift.
"The Secretary is committed to the highest ethical standards and his first meeting as secretary was with the Department's senior ethics officers," Swift said in an email to HuffPost, adding that the secretary owns 1,000 shares out of 57 million in total.
"Zinke's last two purchases of the shares were at valuations of 25 cents per share and 40 cents per share, which would put their fair market valuation between $250 and $400."
However, even without the financial disclosure concerns, questions remain about how Zinke's close relationship with the firearms company could grant PROOF Research influence on his department. His work calendar lists a meeting between Zinke, his top aides, and PROOF Research executives, on April 11 of last year.
"Zinke is required to report assets such as private company stocks with a fair market value of over $1,000," Virginia Canter, executive branch ethics counsel for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told the HuffPost.
"And the fact that he met with company executives is troubling since by law he's required to recuse himself from participating in particular matters that would directly and predictably affect the company. "
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