Watchdog probe of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke sent to Justice Department, reports say

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department has been referred an investigation into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, raising the possibility for criminal charges, according to the Washington Post and CNN.

The probe was one of several the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General had opened into allegations that Zinke, who heads the agency, used his office for personal gain.

The details and extent of the Justice Department’s investigation was not clear Tuesday and officials declined to comment when reached by USA TODAY.

But, the referral raises the stakes and means the Justice Department will be tasked to find whether there were criminal violations.

The Washington Post reports the agency’s inspector general opened multiple probes into Zinke, including his role in a Montana land project and a Connecticut casino project.