Former Trump official Zinke eyes Montana's new US House seat

FILE - In this Oct. 20, 2016, file photo, then-Republican U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke speaks with a supporter in Billings, Mont., as he campaigns for re-election to a second term as the state's sole representative in the U.S. House. The former congressman and interior secretary has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission indicating he's interested in running for the second U.S. House seat awarded to the state on Monday, April 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 20, 2016, file photo, then-Republican U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke speaks with a supporter in Billings, Mont., as he campaigns for re-election to a second term as the state's sole representative in the U.S. House. The former congressman and interior secretary has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission indicating he's interested in running for the second U.S. House seat awarded to the state on Monday, April 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File) (Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

HELENA, Mont. – Former Interior Secretary and Montana congressman Ryan Zinke filed paperwork Thursday signaling his interest in running for the second U.S. House seat that was awarded to the state earlier this week.

Zinke filed documents with the Federal Election Commission to organize the “Zinke for Congress” campaign committee.

Montana on Monday was awarded a second U.S. House seat starting in 2023, based on the state's population in the recent U.S. Census results. The district boundaries have yet to be set, but the election is slated for November 2022.

Zinke is a former U.S. Navy Seal who served in the Montana Senate from 2009 to 2013. He was Montana's lone U.S. House member from 2015 to 2017 before then-President Donald Trump appointed him to head the Department of Interior in early 2017.

During almost two years overseeing an agency responsible for managing 500 million acres of public lands, Zinke on behalf of Trump enacted broad rollbacks of restrictions on oil and gas drilling that were cheered by industry. But they brought a scathing backlash from environmental groups and Democratic lawmakers who accused him of putting corporate profits ahead of preservation.

Zinke resigned from the Interior post in December 2018 amid several investigations that he said were politically motivated and that “created an unfortunate distraction” in fulfilling the agency's mission.

The investigations included a probe into his decision to reject a casino in Connecticut sought by two tribes. That later led a grand jury investigation on whether Zinke had lied to the Department of Justice about the rejection, according to the Washington Post.

There is no public court record of any federal charges being filed against him in the case, and the full findings of the investigation have not been revealed. Several other investigations into Zinke concluded with no findings of wrongdoing.