Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on Capitol Hill on Feb. 14, 2018.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on Capitol Hill on Feb. 14, 2018. Susan Walsh/AP

Mnuchin’s Pricey Government Travel Breaks From Coach-Flying Predecessor

Former Treasury secretary flew coach domestically, and spent just $8,000 on premium travel over four years.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has never traveled on a commercial flight during his tenure, according to newly released documents, breaking the practice of at least some of his predecessors.

Mnuchin has spent nearly $1 million of department money to fly on military aircraft, internal Treasury documents obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington show. The outlays previously sparked a probe by the agency’s inspector general. The flights included both domestic and international travel to Kentucky, New York, Florida and Nevada, as well as to Ottawa, Canada, and an array of countries in Europe and the Middle East.

Mnuchin’s avoidance of commercial flights stands in stark contrast to the travel practices of President Obama's first Treasury secretary. Treasury documents received by Government Executive after a records request show Timothy Geithner took just three “premium” flights during his four-year term. The first was from Washington to Tokyo. The second was from London to Frankfurt, Germany, and the third was from London to Washington. The trips, listed as business or first class, were for “mission” or “special agency mission” travel and were approved because they were more than 14 hours or no space was available in coach. They cost about $8,000, compared to an estimated $2,000 for coach alternatives.

At a panel discussion in Washington hosted by the National Academy of Public Administration on Thursday, Nani Coloretti, who served as Treasury’s assistant secretary for management under Geithner, said the former secretary tried to set a tone with his travel. That even extended to the peak of the financial crisis, when Geithner was regularly receiving death threats.

“This is especially important as a leader,” Coloretti said, “and little behaviors matter. When I worked for Secretary Geithner, he flew coach domestically. That served as a signal to all of us to be prudent with taxpayer dollars.”

The IG’s office cleared Mnuchin for his travel, though it criticized the secretary for failing to adequately justify the use of non-commercial flights.

“In almost all cases a single boilerplate statement constituted the whole analysis and justification for designation and use of military aircraft, despite the fact that the memo clearly calls for a more rigorous and complete provision of facts and arguments,” Rich Delmar, the IG counsel, said in October.

CREW’s Chief FOIA Counsel Anne Weismann said Mnuchin considered “first and foremost his own comfort and ease.”

“The public still has no reasonable explanation for why Secretary Mnuchin apparently has never used commercial aircraft while his predecessors did, or why he needs military aircraft that can accommodate 120 passengers when his travel manifests contain far fewer names,” Weismann said.

Tony Sayegh, Treasury's assistant secretary for public affairs, said Mnuchin's travel in 2017—including air, train, vehicles and hotels—totaled $1.2 million. By comparison, he said, Jack Lew, Mnuchin’s more immediate predecessor, averaged $2.8 million per year on total travel costs.

Mnuchin is one of several Trump administration cabinet heads to become engulfed in travel-related scandal. Health and Human Services Department Secretary Tom Price resigned following reports he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on private, chartered flights. Other members of Trump’s team, such as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Veterans Affairs  Secretary David Shulkin, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, are currently or have been under investigation for their travel practices.

That led Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to issue a memorandum last year instructing agency heads that all travel on government or chartered aircraft must receive approval from White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. David Apol, acting director of the Office of Government Ethics, sent a letter to agency leaders after several of the travel reports surfaced reminding them that their conduct “sets a powerful example for the employees in your organization.” Apol implored the agency heads to adopt a “should I do it?” rather than a “can I do it?” mentality.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.