Watchdog Finds 'Disconnnect' on Mnuchin's Flights

Rich Delmar says they were legal but poorly justified
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2017 3:15 AM CDT
Watchdog: Mnuchin Flights Were Legal But Lacked Justification
In this Aug. 28, 2017, photo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks at a news conference in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

"Just because something is legal doesn't make it right," White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney said when setting down new travel rules—and it was a line that a Treasury Department watchdog decided to include in his report on Steven Mnuchin's travel. In his review of the Treasury secretary's controversial travel on government planes, attorney Rich Delmar found that Mnuchin didn't break any laws, but the department offered little proof that the expensive taxpayer-funded travel was justified, the Washington Post reports. According to the report issued by the office of Treasury Department Inspector General Eric Thorson, Mnuchin's seven flights on military aircraft since March cost a total of $811,000.

"What is of concern is a disconnect between the standard of proof called for ... and the actual amount of proof provided by Treasury and accepted by the White House in justifying these trip requests," wrote Delmar, who noted that a $43,000 flight to Miami would have cost less than $700 per person on a commercial plane. Mnuchin, who said he needed to travel on government aircraft for security reasons, also took a $15,000 round-trip flight to speak to President Trump in New York, the New York Times reports. Treasury spokeswoman Molly Meiners noted that the review found no violation of ethics requirements and said the agency would incorporate the suggested "enhancements" to the approval process. (Mnuchin's request for an Air Force jet for his European honeymoon was rejected.)

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