Treasury watchdog reviews Steven Mnuchin's eclipse trip


WASHINGTON, Sept 1 (Reuters) - A federal watchdog is reviewing the circumstances surrounding a controversial flight taken by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his wife to Kentucky, where he spoke to business leaders and viewed the solar eclipse, according to The Washington Post.

A counsel for the Treasury's Office of Inspector General told the Post in a statement late on Thursday that the flight was being reviewed "to determine whether all applicable travel, ethics and appropriation laws were observed."

EARLIER: Did Steve Mnuchin and wife use a taxpayer-funded trip to watch the solar eclipse?

The Post said Democratic Senator Ron Wyden last week requested a “detailed explanation” of the travel and justification for use of the government aircraft. It said Treasury secretaries and other Cabinet members not involved in national security have traditionally flown on government aircraft on rare occasions, usually taking commercial flights for domestic travel.

The former hedge fund manager and his wife, actress Louise Linton, stirred controversy last week when they traveled to Louisville and Fort Knox, Kentucky, where they viewed the solar eclipse with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others.

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Louise Linton through the years
Steven Mnuchin (L) and his financee Louise Linton watch as US President Donald Trump speaks during Mnuchin's swearing-in ceremony as the next treasury secretary in the Oval Office of the White House on February 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
From left: US President Donald Trump, Steven Mnuchin, his financee Louise Linton, and US Vice President Mike Pence take their positions for Mnuchin's swearing-in ceremony as the next US Treasury secretary in the Oval Office of the White House on February 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 18: (L) Louise Linton and (R) Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin walk on Capital Hill to testify at a Senate Banking Committee and International Policy hearing on Capital Hill May 18, 2017 in Washington, DC. Mnuchin spoke before the committee that oversees bank regulations in his first congressional testimony since being named as Treasury secretary. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WESTWOOD, CA - JUNE 15: Producer/actress Louise Linton attends the premiere of IFC Midnight's 'Intruder' at Regency Bruin Theater on June 15, 2016 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 07: Steven Mnuchin and Louise Linton attends 2016 Library Lions Gala at New York Public Library - Stephen A Schwartzman Building on November 7, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jimi Celeste/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 07: Steven Mnuchin and Louise Linton attends 2016 Library Lions Gala at New York Public Library - Stephen A Schwartzman Building on November 7, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jimi Celeste/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Scottish actress Louise Linton (C), the partner of Steven Mnuchin, looks on as he testifies before Senate Finance Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, January 19, 2017, on his nomination to be Secretary of the Treasury in the Trump administration. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 02: Actress Louise Linton arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of 'Jupiter Ascending' at TCL Chinese Theatre on February 2, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 02: Actress Louise Linton arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of 'Jupiter Ascending' at TCL Chinese Theatre on February 2, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - JULY 16: Louise Linton attends GREY GOOSE Le Martini et Vous evening at Devil�s Advocate on July 16, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Martin Grimes/Getty Images for Grey Goose)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - JULY 16: Louise Linton attends GREY GOOSE Le Martini et Vous evening at Devil�s Advocate on July 16, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Martin Grimes/Getty Images for Grey Goose)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JUNE 11: Louise Linton arrives to Pathway To The Cures For Breast Cancer Fundraiser at Santa Monica Airport on June 11, 2014 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JUNE 11: Louise Linton arrives to Pathway To The Cures For Breast Cancer Fundraiser at Santa Monica Airport on June 11, 2014 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 19: Louise Linton attends the 'Foxcatcher' premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 19, 2014 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Gisela Schober/Getty Images)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 19: Louise Linton attends the 'Foxcatcher' premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 19, 2014 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 11: Louise Linton attends the Scottish Fashion Awards 2012, Scotland's most high-profile celebration of fashion and style which recognises scottish designers who have made a significant contribution to the industry at The Clyde Auditorium on June 11, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Martin Grimes/WireImage)
GLASGOW, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 11: Louise Linton attends Scotland's most high-profile celebration of fashion and style which recognises scottish designers who have made a significant contribution to the industry at The Clyde Auditorium on June 11, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Sandy Young/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - APRIL 05: Actress Louise Linton arrives at the 'She Wants Me' Los Angeles premiere at Laemmle's Music Hall 3 on April 5, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 08: Actress es Louise Linton, Kristin Ruhlin and Tenille Houston celebrate the DVD release of the movie 'She Wants Me' at Tabu Ultra Lounge at MGM Grand on September 8, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Marcel Thomas/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - APRIL 05: Actress Louise Linton arrives at the 'She Wants Me' Los Angeles premiere at Laemmle's Music Hall 3 on April 5, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 08: Actress Louise Linton celebrates the DVD release of the movie 'She Wants Me' at Tabu Ultra Lounge at MGM Grand on September 8, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Marcel Thomas/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 21: Actress Louise Linton attends the Night Of 'BB Forever: Brigitte Bardot, The Legend' at Sofitel Hotel on February 21, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Joe Kohen/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 21: Actress Louise Linton attends the Night Of 'BB Forever: Brigitte Bardot, The Legend' at Sofitel Hotel on February 21, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Joe Kohen/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 15: Louise Linton arrives at the Scottish Fashion Awards at Glasgow Science Centre on June 15, 2011 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Martin Grimes/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 15: Louise Linton arrives at the Scottish Fashion Awards at Glasgow Science Centre on June 15, 2011 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Martin Grimes/Getty Images)
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Treasury officials have said the trip was official government travel, with Mnuchin speaking to Louisville business leaders before visiting Fort Knox, where a large portion of the U.S. gold reserves are held.

Linton helped touch off the controversy by posting a photo of herself on social media getting off a U.S. government plane and listing the designer brands she was wearing. That triggered a spat between Linton and critics angered by the display of wealth and privilege.

Rich Delmar, counsel for the Treasury's Office of Inspector General, told the Post the office was looking into various issues raised by the flight.

"When our review is complete, we will advise the appropriate officials, in accordance with the Inspector General Act and established procedures," he said in the statement.

(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Susan Heavey and Phil Berlowitz)

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