Watchdog Group Investigating if Steve Mnuchin and Louise Linton Used Federal Government Plane to View Eclipse


Mnuchin and Linton 'Headed to Fort Knox With McConnell After the Lunch to Tour the Bullion Reserve at the Army Post and View the Eclipse'

Louise Linton's passive-aggressive comments on her Instagram post showing her and her husband, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, exiting a federal government plane were the focus of many news articles Tuesday. Linton had bragged about all the designer brands she was wearing in the photo, which led to social media users chastising her. Her responses reeked of privilege, and her two-sentence "apology," issued by her publicist, didn't help any.

But today Linton and Mnuchin may need a different kind of help, help that a publicist can't provide.

A watchdog group is demanding to know why Mnuchin was allowed to use a federal government plane for the couple's trip to Kentucky that she so famously documented, when policy and procedure state domestic travel for cabinet members is usually made on commercial airlines. 

According to a Monday report in the Courier-Journal, "Mnuchin, 54, was accompanied by his new wife, actress and producer Louise Linton, who is 36. The two were headed to Fort Knox with McConnell after the lunch to tour the bullion reserve at the Army post and view the eclipse."

It's that last part that drew the attention of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) a non-partisan DC-based non-profit.

Did Mnuchin and Linton take a government plane so they could use it to see Monday's historic solar eclipse?

CREW is requesting "copies of all records concerning authorization for and the costs of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s use of a government plane to travel to Lexington, Kentucky on Monday, August 21, accompanied by his wife Louise Linton," and "copies of all records concerning authorization for and the costs of Secretary Mnuchin’s use of a government plane for any purpose since his appointment as Treasury Secretary."

In other words, has Mnuchin been using federal government planes since he's become Treasury Secretary? While not illegal if approved, his job is presumably in part to help improve America's finances, and using federal government planes would not do that. And like Linton's Instagram comments, would be yet another example of privilege run amok. 

"The requested records would shed light on the justification for Secretary Mnuchin’s use of a government plane, rather than a commercial flight, for a trip that seems to have been planned around the solar eclipse and to enable the Secretary to secure a viewpoint in the path of the eclipse’s totality," CREW says on its website. "At a time of expected deep cuts to the federal budget, the taxpayers have a significant interest in learning the extent to which Secretary Mnuchin has used government planes for travel in lieu of commercial planes, and the justification for that use."

Linton apparently has a talent for courting attention.

"This is not Linton’s first encounter with controversy," Yashar Ali wrote at HuffPost of Linton's Instagram comments. "In 2016, Linton came under fire for her self-published memoir, In Congo’s Shadow, which detailed her time as a student in Zambia. In July of 2016, Zambians, and their advocates, criticized Linton’s portrayal of Zambia as a war-torn, poverty-stricken nation with wild animals running through the streets. Linton was also criticized for portraying herself as a white savior. Under pressure, Linton withdrew the book from sale and pledged to give any proceeds to charity. The actress actually dressed as Marie Antoinette in a 2007 episode of 'CSI: NY.'"

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Image by Linda Thomas-Fowler via Flickr and a CC license

Hat tip: Uproxx