Zinke calls to Senators after health care votes under 'preliminary investigation'
Posted August 4, 2017 12:15 p.m. EDT
The Interior Department's Office of the Inspector General has opened a preliminary investigation into calls made between Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and GOP Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan.
In a letter sent Thursday to Democratic Reps. Frank Pallone and Raul Grijalva, who initially requested the investigation on July 27, deputy inspector general Mary Kendall said the "OIG is undertaking a preliminary investigation into this matter."
The letter added that the two members of Congress would be advised "about what further action the results of this inquiry lead the OIG to take."
The congressmen requested the inspector general look into the matter after Zinke -- whose department has no direct role in efforts to reform health care -- made headlines last week when the Alaska Dispatch News reported that he had contacted Sullivan and Murkowski to express President Donald Trump's displeasure after she dissented on a key vote on GOP health care legislation.
In one published report, Murkowski said: "It was not a very pleasant call."
However, on Thursday Zinke tweeted a photo of himself drinking beer with Murkowski Wednesday night, writing, "I say dinner, she says brews. My friends know me well. Thanks @lisamurkowski #Alaska #IPA #MadeInAmerica."
In an interview with CNN's Dana Bash Thursday, Murkowski elaborated, "I did not take it as a threat. (Zinke) and I have a pretty good relationship, very professional, a respectful one. My hope is that we're going to be able to continue to work on good, good energy initiatives for Alaskans."