The U.S. Treasury Department’s watchdog has begun reviewing the circumstances of Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s trip to Kentucky with his wife last month, where he discussed tax plans at a public event and toured Fort Knox.
The review “to determine whether all applicable travel, ethics and appropriate laws and policies were observed” during the Aug. 21 trip is in response to public inquiries, Rich Delmar, the Treasury’s counsel to the Inspector General, said in an emailed statement Friday. The Washington Post first reported the news about the probe.
During the trip, Mnuchin discussed the administration’s tax reform plans at an event hosted by a local chamber of commerce in Louisville, alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and met with business leaders. Mnuchin is helping drive White House efforts to get a bill to cut taxes for middle-income earners and corporations through Congress by year end.
After Mnuchin and McConnell viewed the gold holdings at Fort Knox, they watched the solar eclipse together, according to a photo on McConnell’s Facebook page.
Mnuchin reimbursed the government for the cost of travel for his wife, Louise Linton, in line with the policy on private citizens using military aircraft, a Treasury spokesperson said in an emailed response to questions on Friday. The department has received permission from the White House when “at times” Mnuchin used government aircraft to “facilitate his travel schedule” and to ensure he has access to secure communications, the spokesperson said.
Linton, 36, stirred controversy for posting a photo on social media of herself stepping off a government plane on the day of the Kentucky trip, with hashtags of the designer labels she was wearing. When an Oregon mother criticized her “little getaway” on the Instagram posting, Linton responded by calling her “adorably out of touch” and said her sacrifices are “a lot more” than someone else would be willing to make given the choice.
Linton’s remarks set off an online firestorm, and the Scottish-born actress later issued an apology for her “inappropriate and highly insensitive” behavior.
Past Treasury secretaries typically flew commercial airlines when they were available on domestic trips for official business, but occasionally used government aircraft when flying internationally.