Ryan Zinke cleared of Hatch Act allegation for speech

(CNN) – A government watchdog has cleared Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke from improper political activity when he spoke to a professional hockey team owned by one of his campaign donors.

The Office of Special Counsel found “no evidence or allegation” that Zinke “gave a political speech or otherwise engaged in political activity during this event” with the Las Vegas Golden Knights in June 2017.

The speech drew attention because of travel costs and the event host. Zinke left the event on a $12,375 charter flight that “might have been avoided” if his schedule had been better arranged, the Interior inspector general found in a separate report this spring. Knights owner Bill Foley was “a major donor” to Zinke’s 2014 campaign for Congress, and campaign finance records show Fidelity National Financial Inc. — where Foley is chairman of the board — has contributed nearly $155,000 to Zinke’s campaigns.