Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is under investigation by his own department for using government resources to take a private trip with his wife.
Two weeks ago, the media was buzzing over a controversy centering on Louise Linton, the wife of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
And now the buzz has spread to the Office of the Inspector General within Mnuchin’s own department.
On August 21, Linton posted an Instagram photo of herself disembarking from a sleek government-marked jet, during a trip with her husband to Kentucky to watch the solar eclipse from the roof of the Fort Knox gold reserve.
In the picture, she was adorned with tens of thousands of dollars in designer clothing and accessories.
The post did not go over well with some users.
Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin's wife Louise Linton has deleted this Instagram, which contained tagged designers and some interesting comments pic.twitter.com/MvPhPJtRze
— Betsy Klein (@betsy_klein) August 22, 2017
Linton ultimately deleted the post, but before doing so, she wrote a snide response to an Oregon woman who called her out for misusing taxpayer money:
cute! ? Aw!!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country?
The problem for Linton, and Mnuchin, is that after seeing the Instagram photo, the Treasury Department does suspect they are inappropriately billing the government for personal travel.
Following ethics complaints by Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the Office of the Inspector General for the Treasury is now investigating the trip.
Counsel Rich Delmar confirmed the office is “reviewing the circumstances of the Secretary’s flight to Louisville and Ft. Knox to determine whether all applicable travel, ethics, and appropriation laws and policies were observed.”
Furthermore, the Treasury has confirmed they will be requiring Mnuchin to reimburse the government for the trip.
The reckless and possibly illegal spending of Mnuchin and his wife contrasts sharply with Mnuchin’s former tenure on Wall Street, where he systematically and cruelly ruined the lives of borrowers for the most minor financial lapses.
Mnuchin’s bank, OneWest, foreclosed on 36,000 homes, often refusing to let people restructure, and was accused of discriminating against people of color. OneWest even foreclosed on a ninety-year-old borrower for failing to pay 27 cents.
Today, Mnuchin advocates rolling back Obama-era financial regulations that curb abuses like this.
The spectacle of Mnuchin and his wife using a government plane to get a good seat for the solar eclipse, after he spent a career throwing working families out of house and home over pennies, is a perfect illustration of class disparity and privilege in America — coming right from the federal government and put on display for all to see.