Did Steve Mnuchin and wife use a taxpayer-funded trip to watch the solar eclipse?
A political watchdog is looking into US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's trip to Kentucky this week, where he reportedly advocated for a tax-code overhaul. The organization is trying figure out whether the travel was used as cover for Mnuchin and his wife to watch the solar eclipse.
The watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for details about the trip, which it said appears to have been "planned around" the eclipse, The Washington Post reported on Thursday night.
Kentucky was one of the best places in the US to view the eclipse, because of its location just outside the path of totality. Mnuchin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were both in Kentucky speaking at a luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. local time on Monday, The Post reported. The eclipse was set to begin at 12:59 p.m., ending at 3:51 p.m.
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Such speaking engagements have been routine for McConnell, who normally takes questions afterward. A Louisville chamber of commerce spokeswoman told the newspaper that this time, McConnell and Mnuchin "went right on out."
They watched the solar eclipse from atop Fort Knox. McConnell posted a picture of himself with Mnuchin. In the photo, McConnell is seen holding the protective eyewear required for viewing the eclipse.
"The U.S. Department of the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and I in front of the main door to the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox before we viewed the #solareclipse from the rooftop today," McConnell's Facebook caption reads.
McConnell said Mnuchin invited him to join in on the eclipse viewing at Fort Knox. “It just kind of came up as a result of a casual conversation,” the Senate majority leader told reporters, according to The Post.
Mnuchin's wife, Louise Linton posted a now-infamous photo of herself and Mnuchin stepping off of a government jet in Kentucky on Monday, tagging several high-end designers in the picture, which drew fierce criticism online. After one commenter called Linton "deplorable" for flaunting her wealth, Linton snapped back, calling the commenter "adorably out of touch." Linton later apologized for the remark.
An unnamed Treasury official told The Post that Mnuchin is "reimbursing the government" for Linton's travel.
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