Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke accused a top Democratic lawmaker of being a drunk on Friday, saying it was hard for him to “think straight from the bottom of the bottle.”
The blistering attack on Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) came in response to the congressman calling on Zinke to resign amid mounting ethics scandals.
Grijalva wrote an opinion column for USA Today, saying Zinke must step down because of what he called “ethical and managerial failings.”
Zinke tweeted out a scathing response, accusing the Arizona Democrat of drunkenness and using taxpayer money to cover up inappropriate behavior.
“It’s hard for him to think straight from the bottom of the bottle,” Zinke tweeted. “This is coming from a man who used nearly $50,000 in tax dollars as hush money to cover up his drunken and hostile behavior. He should resign and pay back the taxpayer for the hush money and the tens of thousands of dollars he forced my department to spend investigating unfounded allegations.”
The tweet included the hashtag #TuneInnForMore, a reference to a Washington bar.
Grijalva released a statement in response to Zinke’s tweet that did not directly address the Interior secretary’s accusations.
“The American people know who I’m here to serve, and they know in whose interests I’m acting. They don’t know the same about Secretary Zinke,” Grijalva said.
Grijalva, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, is in line to head the panel once Democrats take control of the House in January.
The committee oversees Zinke’s Interior Department, and the back-and-forth on Friday sets a sharp tone for their relationship if Grijalva becomes chairman.
Zinke was recently cleared of an ethics investigation regarding his decision to shrink two national monuments in Utah. However, another investigation involving a land deal in Montana and a Halliburton chairman, has reportedly been referred to the Justice Department.
“I take no pleasure in calling for this step, and I have resisted it even as questions have grown about Mr. Zinke’s ethical and managerial failings,” Grijalva wrote in his op-ed, saying that ultimately the secretary’s conduct in office has made this “unavoidable.”
Rep. Nydia Velazquez also took to Twitter to express her support for her fellow lawmaker.
“I echo my friend and colleague @RepRaulGrijalva in calling on Interior Department @SecretaryZinke to resign. Zinke has brought a culture of corruption and corporate favoritism to an agency tasked with caring for our public lands and resources,” she wrote. “The American people deserve better.