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Top Dems Request Hearings on Trump Administration’s Extravagant Air Travel

Apr 3, 2018
Press Release

Top Dems Request Hearings on

Trump Administration’s Extravagant Air Travel

 

Washington, D.C. (Apr. 3, 2018)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Health Care, Benefits, and Administrative Rules, sent a letter to Chairman Trey Gowdy requesting that the Committee hold hearings into whether the Trump Administration has adequate controls in place to protect taxpayer funds from waste, fraud, and abuse.

“Many agencies—including the White House—have refused to provide the information our Committee has requested to conduct our investigation, and without subpoenas, we cannot effectively investigate this matter,” Cummings and Krishnamoorthi wrote.  “We request that you hold a hearing on the extent of these improper flights and why the White House and several agencies have refused to provide the requested documents.”

Last week, ABC News reported that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt rented a condo from a lobbyist for the nation’s only liquefied natural gas exporter before spending nearly $40,000 in taxpayer funds on a trip to Morocco to discuss liquefied natural gas exports.

In today’s letter, Cummings and Krishnamoorthi expressed grave concerns about multiple additional reports of questionable and expensive travel at the taxpayer expense, including:

  •          a September 2017 Politico report that former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price’s travel between May and September 2017 totaled more than $1 million at taxpayer expense, including multiple private chartered flights;

  •          a September 2017 Washington Post report concerning Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s use of chartered aircraft at taxpayer expense, including a $12,000 flight from Las Vegas to Montana on a private plane owned by oil and gas executives; 

  •          a February 2018 Washington Post report concerning former Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin’s use of taxpayer funded airfare and reimbursed expenses to take his wife sightseeing in Europe;

  •          a March 2018 Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics disclosure showing that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took eight trips on military aircraft between spring and fall 2017 that totaled nearly $1 million at taxpayer expense and that half of these trips were to domestic locations, including one trip to Miami that cost more than $40,000; and

  •          a March 2018 CBS News and Politico report that  EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s first-class flight to Italy to attend a G-7 summit cost taxpayers more than $120,000, including a $7,000 first-class ticket for Administrator Pruitt between New York City and Rome, an extra $30,000 to fly his 24-hour security detail with him, and $36,000 for a military aircraft to fly Administrator Pruitt from a press event to New York City. 

“As representatives of the American taxpayers, we are responsible for ensuring that their hard-earned money is not wasted,” Cummings and Krishnamoorthi wrote.  “The extensive use of noncommercial aircraft by multiple members of the Trump Administration is disrespectful to the American taxpayers who foot the bill for these expenses.  It is unacceptable that the White House and several agencies have refused to provide our Committee with the documents we need to conduct our oversight responsibilities.”

On September 26, 2017, Chairman Gowdy and Ranking Member Cummings launched an investigation into improper air travel by Trump Administration officials, sending letters to 25 agencies seeking a wide range of documents.  On October 17, 2017, Gowdy and Cummings sent follow-up letters to obtain the documents the Committee had not yet received.

To date, the Committee still has yet to receive all of the requested documents.  In response to the Committee’s multiple requests, the White House has issued a series of evolving and bizarre refusals on October 10, 2017, November 3, 2017, and December 4, 2017.   

On two separate occasions, Ranking Member Cummings sent letters requesting that Gowdy issue a subpoena to compel the White House to produce all of the requested documents, but Gowdy refused.

Click here to read today’s letter.

 

115th Congress