by: Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk Updated:
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin inquired about using a government jet for his European honeymoon after marrying Scottish actress Louise Linton in June, officials confirmed Wednesday in a statement.
The request was later deemed to be unnecessary, a Treasury Department spokesman said.
Mnuchin asked about using a government plane in an effort to ensure that he had access to secure communications while on his honeymoon, according to the Treasury Department.
“We have multiple issues around the world where the secretary is directly involved in national security, notably North Korea, Iran and Venezuela, among others,” a department spokesman said. “It is imperative that he have access to secure communications, and it is our practice to consider a wide range of options to ensure he has these capabilities during his travel, including the possible use of military aircraft.”
Another way to provide Mnuchin with access to secure communications was instead found, and the Treasury Department deemed his request to be unnecessary, officials said.
Critics slammed Mnuchin’s request, characterizing it as another example of the treasury secretary attempting to use tax payer dollars to fund personal travel. Also under scrutiny is a trip he and his wife made last month to Kentucky in which a government plane was used.
“You don’t need a giant rule book of government requirements to just say (to) yourself, ‘This is common sense, it’s wrong,’” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, told ABC News on Wednesday. “That’s just slap-your-forehead stuff.”
Politico reported that requests to use military jets for personal travel are unusual, but not unprecedented.
“Such trips can cost tens of thousands of dollars to operate per hour,” according to the news site. “Treasury secretaries tend to fly on commercial airlines but have used government planes for overseas work trips.”
Mnuchin, a wealthy, former Goldman Sachs banker, was criticized last month after he and his wife took a government jet to fly to Kentucky. Linton posted a photo to Instagram after the trip in which she promoted the high-end designer brands she wore while disembarking the government plane.
The Treasury Department is reviewing the flight to determine whether any ethical violations were made, The New York Times reported.
A Treasury Department spokesperson told The Associated Press last month that Mnuchin and Linton are reimbursing the government for the cost of Linton’s travel and added that she was not given compensation for promoting the luxury brands on Instagram.
Some critics suggested Mnuchin and Linton traveled to Kentucky to get a better view of the solar eclipse, Politico reported, although Mnuchin has denied the allegation. He said that he was in the state, which was in the path of totality for the eclipse, for meetings on tax reform, according to Politico.
In a statement released to the Times, Richard Delmar, counsel to the inspector general, said, “We are looking at all requests for use of government aircraft.”
© 2017 Cox Media Group.
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