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This is the Department of the Interior's excuse for Ryan Zinke's $138,670 doors

It's working to maintain the “historic FDR-era building.”

by Alex Lubben
Mar 9 2018, 4:25pm

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has — like other members of the Trump administration — spent exorbitant amounts on personal travel, all while his agency faces steep cuts.

Now, Zinke’s office is getting three new sets of doors for a cool $138,670. To justify the cost, his agency said it’s working to maintain the “historic FDR-era building” in which the Department of Interior is housed, spokeswoman Heather Swift told VICE News in an email.

The item is described only as “Secretary’s Door” on a publicly accessible government website, first reported by the Associated Press. It’s not entirely clear why the doors would be so expensive, but Swift explained that they need to meet the specifications of the historic office, and thus, need to be custom built. The company contracted for the job, however, doesn’t list historic restoration as a specialization on its website.

For his part, Zinke is claiming ignorance.

“The secretary was not aware of this contract but agrees that this is a lot of money for demo, install, materials, and labor,” Swift said. “Between regulations that require historic preservation and outdated government procurement rules, the costs for everything from pencils to printing to doors is astronomical. This is a perfect example of why the secretary believes we need to reform procurement processes.”

Swift also noted that the project was requested not by political staff but by “career” officials as part of a decades-long project of refurbishing the office.

The three sets of double doors in question had fallen into disrepair. They were leaking water into the secretary’s office and parts had been replaced with cardboard and duct tape.

Meanwhile, Zinke is planning to cut 4,000 positions from the agency’s workforce to accommodate the $1.6 billion in proposed budget cuts to Interior.

Zinke isn’t the only member of the Trump administration with a taste for expensive office decor: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson reportedly spent $31,000 on a dining set for his office. And Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, spent $25,000 on a soundproof booth for his office and about $5,500 on biometric locks for his office door, all in service of providing additional security to the administrator. (The Department of the Interior also considered blast-proofing the doors to Zinke’s office, but opted against it.)

Zinke also spent $14,000 on helicopter trips last summer, according to Politico. He took one of those helicopter rides to meet with Vice President Mike Pence for a jaunt on horseback. That trip cost about $6,250.

Cover image: United States Secretary of the interior Ryan Zinke listens as US President Donald J. Trump hosts the 2018 White House Business Session with Governors, February 26, 2018, at The White House in Washington, DC. (Chris Kleponis/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)