Treasury Secretary Mnuchin's government flights cost taxpayers over $800K but broke no laws: Review

Mnuchin's flights include $314,442.04 for a May 11-14 trip to Bari, Italy.

ByABC News
October 5, 2017, 6:47 PM

— -- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took seven trips on government jets during his short tenure at the department that have cost taxpayers over $800,000, but at no time did he violate any laws, a preliminary internal review concluded on Thursday.

A new memo to the Treasury Department's Inspector General from his legal counsel Rich Delmar determined that while these expensive trips don't break the law, they also don't meet the standards for justification set out in guidelines this administration has said it would follow. Those guidelines were laid out in a memo by President Obama's chief of staff, Bill Daley.

"I see no violation of law in these requests and uses," Delmar, writes in the report. "What is of concern is a disconnect between the standard of proof called for in the Daley memo, and the actual amount of proof provided by Treasury and accepted by the White House in justifying these trip requests."

Officials who worked with Mnuchin's predecessors told ABC News military aircraft were only used in "extreme" circumstances, and for some overseas business travel. Mnuchin's most expensive flights outlined in the report were on two overseas trips, each of which cost over $300,000.

But it also shows that he requested a flight between New York and Washington, D.C., on Aug. 15 that cost over $15,000.

And it shows one previously unreported day trip to Miami that cost $43,725.50. Delmar notes commercial flights were available for "$688 round trip."

The report also revealed that Mnuchin's request for a jet to take him and his wife on their honeymoon to Europe was withdrawn after it was proposed to White House deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn.

In a statement to ABC News, a Treasury Department spokesman said they appreciated the review and its determination no laws were violated.

“We appreciate the inspector general’s thorough review of Treasury’s travel requests, which identified no violation of law, regulation, or ethics requirements in connection with the department’s requests," the statement said. "The inspector general confirmed that the secretary is ‘required by applicable authority and policy to have access to secure communications at a high level of classification at all times – including both official and personal travel.’ The inspector general also confirmed that each of the secretary’s uses of government aircraft was approved by the White House. The department followed the same approval procedures and provided the White House the same level of justification as in previous administrations, including the Obama administration. The inspector general suggested certain enhancements to the longstanding approval process, which we intend to incorporate fully going forward.”

In total, the secretary has made nine requests for military aircraft. Seven were taken, one was withdrawn, and one is set for later this month.

The report outlines the prices for each flight taken, including:

$301,167.02 for a March 15-18 trip to London, Berlin and Baden-Baden, Germany. $314,442.04 for a May 11-14 trip to Bari, Italy$16,350 for a June 9, 2017 trip to Ottawa, Canada$43,725.50 for a June 15 trip to Miami$15,112.50 for an Aug. 15 trip to New York City$26,900.25 for an Aug. 21 trip to Kentucky$94,100.5 for an Aug. 28-29 trip to West Virginia and Las Vegas

Grand total: $811,797.81

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