Treasury Secretary Mnuchin's air travel sparks inquiry

The Treasury inspector general is looking into Secretary Steve Mnuchin's request to use a military jet on his European honeymoon.
By Ed Mason | Sep 16, 2017
For the second time, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's use of government aircraft is raising questions about whether he improperly traveled, or requested to travel, on the government's dime.

In August, the Treasury Department's inspector general opened an inquiry into Mnuchin's use of a U.S. Air Force jet to fly him and his new wife, Louise Linton, to Kentucky, where they viewed the total solar eclipse from Fort Knox, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.

Now, the inspector general reportedly is also looking into Mnuchin's request to use a military aircraft for his August honeymoon to Europe, which he and Linton took just prior to the Kentucky trip.

The inspector general is "looking at all requests for and use of government aircraft by the secretary," said Rich Delmar, counsel to the inspector general, on Thursday, as reported by the Times.

The Treasury Department said in a statement that Mnuchin requested a military plane reportedly costing about $25,000 per hour to operate for his honeymoon because he needed access to secure communications. The request was withdrawn after another secure communications option was found.

"This had nothing to do with convenience," Mnuchin said, during a forum hosted by Politico. "This was purely about national security."

Travel on military aircraft is generally limited to the president, vice-president, and cabinet members directly involved with national security, a report by ABC News said. Current and former Treasury officials say the use of military aircraft by former Treasury secretaries for private travel was practically unheard of.

"People can do whatever they want on their own time, on their vacations and in the houses that they live in, but they can't be expecting taxpayers to foot the bill for a Hollywood lifestyle," said Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, in the Times report.

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