WASHINGTON ― An ethics watchdog group is investigating whether Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his wife, actress Louise Linton, planned a government trip to view the solar eclipse on Monday, the same trip on which Linton created controversy after flaunting the couple’s extravagant lifestyle on social media.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) on Wednesday filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain “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.”
That day, Mnuchin appeared at an event with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in Louisville, and then traveled to Fort Knox to tour the famed U.S. Army gold depository.
Citing a report from the Louisville Courier-Journal, which noted that Mnuchin and Linton also went there to view the eclipse, CREW alleges that the couple may have planned the trip around the eclipse and used the government plane for personal purposes.
“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,” the group said in explaining the FOIA request.
The trip sparked widespread controversy after Linton posted a picture on Instagram of her exiting the Air Force plane the couple used for the trip, touting the brand names of her designer clothing. After a woman named Jennifer Miller posted a critical comment about the post, Linton defended the couple’s luxurious lifestyle by posting a lengthy comment full of classist attacks against Miller.
Linton later deleted the photo and made her Instagram account private, before issuing an apology for the incident.
In addition to Monday’s trip, CREW requested all other records of Mnuchin’s use of a government plane as Treasury secretary.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.