American Oversight Sues Pentagon, FAA, and GSA for Records of “MilAir” and Other Chartered Flights
Nonpartisan ethics watchdog American Oversight today filed a lawsuit to uncover records of senior Trump administration officials’ use of taxpayer-funded travel on government-owned aircraft.
“Nowhere is the Trump administration’s culture of corruption and impunity more apparent than in the lavish travel habits of the president’s cabinet,” said Austin Evers, Executive Director of American Oversight. “With every new example of excessive spending comes another round of dissembling and misinformation. We need the whole story of how taxpayer dollars have been used to cater to Trump officials, and any cabinet members who have abused taxpayer-funded travel need to face the consequences. If anyone thinks they have escaped scrutiny, they are wrong.”
Most chartered air travel by cabinet secretaries or other senior government officials takes place on “MilAir” flights coordinated by the Department of Defense (DOD) or on other government aircraft operated by entities like the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has racked up nearly $1 million in travel costs on military jets, including a trip to Kentucky with his wife on the day of the solar eclipse in 2017. More recently, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has come under fire for spending tens of thousands of dollars on government air travel.
American Oversight’s suit seeks to compel the release of documents from the DOD, the Air Force, and the FAA showing each time agency secretaries, White House staff, and members of Congress and congressional staff traveled on military or FAA aircraft, as well as records showing the cost of those trips.
In addition to records of travel on military or FAA planes, American Oversight also seeks records from the General Services Administration (GSA) related to secretaries’ travel expenses. The GSA requires cabinet agencies to report information about senior federal officials who fly on government-owned aircraft, including passengers’ names, each trip’s destination, and how much the government spent on flights for officials.
After former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price’s taxpayer-funded travel came to light in September 2017, American Oversight launched an investigation into senior officials’ use of chartered and government-owned planes and sent Freedom of Information Act requests to more than a dozen agencies seeking records.
In October, American Oversight sued the Department of Interior on behalf of Western Values Project to compel the release of records related to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s wife’s taxpayer-funded travel. The watchdog has also twice called on the Office of Special Counsel to investigate Pruitt’s taxpayer-funded travel habits.
See the complaint below:
Part of Investigation: