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Treasury's Mnuchin racks up sky-high costs with taxpayer-funded travel

It's not easy for one person to rack up nearly $1 million in military flights at taxpayers' expense in less than a year.
Image: FILE PHOTO: US Treasury Secretary nominee Mnuchin and  Linton arrive for the Presidential Inauguration of Donald Trump at the US Capitol
FILE PHOTO: US Treasury Secretary nominee Stephen Mnuchin and fiancee Louise Linton arrive for the Presidential Inauguration of Donald Trump at the US...

It wasn't great when we learned Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his wife flew on a government plane to Kentucky on the day of the solar eclipse. The story looked a little worse when we learned Mnuchin "inquired about the use of a military plane" for his European honeymoon.

The scope of the story, however, is still coming into focus.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin racked up almost $1 million in military flights last year at taxpayers' expense, according to a new report.In a report issued Thursday, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which investigated Mnuchin's travels through Freedom of Information Act requests, found Mnuchin took eight separate trips on military aircraft between spring and fall 2017.

Those dates are of particular significance: it seems likely that the cabinet secretary has taken other military flights since the fall of 2017, which means the overall price tag is probably even higher now.

It's also worth emphasizing that Mnuchin had other travel choices. His recent predecessors, for example, took plenty of commercial flights. He also could've made use of smaller military planes.

But he didn't. Mnuchin isn't part of the military; he's never been in the military; and there's nothing about his office that requires him to make use of military planes, which are extremely expensive. But the Treasury secretary has apparently been taking full advantage of this opportunity, even if taxpayers get stuck with the tab.

The fact that this story comes against the backdrop of so many other Trump cabinet officials using public funds in controversial ways really doesn't help.

That said, the Washington Post  reported overnight on vulnerable members of the president's team, and somehow, Mnuchin wasn't included among those whose jobs are in jeopardy.