Mnuchin Under Fire For Possibly Using Government Plane To Watch Eclipse

Treasury Secretary-designate Stephen Mnuchin and his fiancee Louise Linton arrive on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, for the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)
Saul Loeb/Pool AFP

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is seeking records related to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his wife’s trip to Kentucky Monday, questioning whether the couple planned the excursion around watching the solar eclipse, The Washington Post reported.

The couple flew to Louisville on Monday on a tax-payer funded plane to visit Fort Knox with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and make an appearance at a luncheon at a local chamber of commerce.

A photo posted on McConnell’s Facebook page initially indicated Mnuchin, his wife, Louise Linton and the senator also got to view the eclipse from the roof of Fort Knox.

“The U.S. Department of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and I in front of the main door to the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox before we viewed the #solareclipse from the rooftop today,” the post originally said.

But the Treasury released a statement Friday saying the group actually viewed the eclipse from the lawn.

“The Mint staff had originally suggested that the delegation watch the eclipse from the roof but the Secretary specifically canceled that part of the tour. They watched it briefly from outside before they entered (prior to the actual time of full eclipse),” the department said in a statement to The Washington Post.

McConnell’s staff later altered the Facebook post to remove the words “from the rooftop today.”

The U.S. Department of the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and I in front of the main door to the United States…

Posted by Senator Mitch McConnell on Monday, August 21, 2017

While Treasury officials told the Post the trip was planned around “official government travel,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) wants to know more about the motive behind the trip.

He wrote a letter to the Treasury Department’s lawyers asking for detailed information about the reason for the travel and why a government plane was used.

The inquiry comes just days after Linton came under fire for an Instagram post she made on Monday, bragging about her wealth and getting into an argument with a follower.

Linton apparently made her Instagram account private after boasting about flying on a government plane to Kentucky with her husband and tagging fashion brands like Hermès, Tom Ford and Valentino—in her photo. Followers posted comments on the picture, calling it distasteful for Linton to tag such high-end brands in her posts and saying sarcastically they were glad that taxpayers could pay for her trip. Linton argued back.

“Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband?” Linton wrote in response to the commenter. “Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day ‘trip’ than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours.”

Linton later apologized through spokesperson, calling the post “ inappropriate and highly insensitive.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.
LIKE US ON FACEBOOK