Louise Linton, the wife of United States Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, put a business trip to Fort Knox, Kentucky into the national spotlight after a she posted a photo on Instagram of her disembarking from an Air Force jet. Now, the Office of the Inspector General is investigating the trip for its incredibly convenient timing with the solar eclipse, as both events fell on the same day and Kentucky happened to be one of the best places to view the natural phenomenon.
"We are reviewing the circumstances of the Secretary’s August 21 flight ... to determine whether all applicable travel, ethics, and appropriation laws and policies were observed," counsel Rich Delmar stated to The Washington Post.
Treasury officials have insisted that the trip was "official government travel" and that the trip was sanctioned by the White House.
"The Secretary of the Treasury at times needs to use a government aircraft to facilitate his travel schedule and to ensure uninterrupted access to secure communications," a spokesperson for the Treasury informed CBS News. "The Department of the Treasury sought and received the appropriate approval from the White House. Secretary Mnuchin has reimbursed the government for the cost of Ms. Linton's travel in accordance with the longstanding policy regarding private citizens on military aircraft," the spokesperson continued.
In contrast, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) demanded details of the trip, along with the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility. According to the group, who has directed lawsuits at President Donald Trump himself in the past, the trip appears "to have been planned around the solar eclipse," not government business.
The likelihood of this resulting into anything substantial is realistically slim, but regardless the choice of transportation does raise questions. As The Washington Post pointed out, cabinet members rarely utilize government planes due to their high cost and traditionally opt for commercial airlines with the exception of international travel. Unless there is an incredibly good reason for the Treasury Secretary's specific use of an Air Force jet for a day trip to Kentucky, this is misuse of taxpayers' dollars spurred on by the flagrant sense of entitlement that defines this administration.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters photographer Jonathan Ernst