Mostly True
Says U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin "wants to use a government jet that costs $25,000 per hour for his honeymoon."

Mark Pocan on Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 in a tweet

Did U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin want a $25,000-an-hour government jet for his honeymoon?

The travels of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his wife, actress Louise Linton, are under scrutiny. (Associated Press)

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan frequently criticizes the administration of Republican President Donald Trump.

On Sept. 13, 2017, the Madison-area Democrat got a little more personal, tweeting this about Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin:

Mnuchin wants to use a gov't jet that costs $25k/hour for his honeymoon. And he's in charge of tax reform for the middle class? #OutOfTouch

What’s this all about?

Revelations in the news

Mnuchin is a former longtime banker, Goldman Sachs executive and a Hollywood producer ("The Lego Batman Movie" and others). When tapped for Trump’s Cabinet in late 2016, he was worth $300 million, according to Forbes. As treasury secretary, Mnuchin advises Trump on economic and financial issues. In June 2017, with Vice President Mike Pence officiating, he married Scottish actress Louise Linton. Their honeymoon was in August 2017, according to news reports.

Pocan’s tweet was sent the same day ABC News broke a story that was picked up by the Washington Post, USA Today and many other national media.

The story said:

  • Mnuchin requested, in writing, a U.S. Air Force jet to take him and his actress-model wife Louise Linton on their honeymoon to Scotland, France and Italy.

  • The jet could cost $25,000 per hour to operate, according to an Air Force spokesman.

  • A Treasury Department spokesman said Mnuchin made the request out of concern for maintaining a secure method of communication, but the secretary's office decided (before ABC’s story) that the use of military aircraft was unnecessary after it became apparent that other methods for secure communication were available.

So, based on the news report, Mnuchin’s request isn’t current, as Pocan’s tweet suggests, and the cost isn’t necessarily $25,000 per hour.

But the thrust of the claim is correct: Mnuchin requested a military jet for his honeymoon.

Mnuchin’s response

When we asked the Treasury Department about Pocan’s claim, we were referred to a video clip of an interview Mnuchin did with Politico the day after the ABC News story aired. Asked about the matter, he said:

  • "I probably spend over 50 percent of my time on national security issues ….This had nothing to do with convenience, this was purely about national security."

  • "The government has never paid for any of my personal travel."

  • "My staff wanted to make sure that I constantly had access to secure communication" and the use of a jet for his honeymoon "was one of the things we explored. So, they put in a request to consider the use of an aircraft ... and ultimately we withdrew the request. We found a way of dealing with other secure communication."

  • Asked whether the jet was a staff request, not his personal request, Mnuchin said: "Again, I discussed with the staff a bunch of alternatives … one of the things they suggested, I agreed that they would look into it, OK? We looked into other things, as well. When we found alternative uses, we withdrew the request."

So, Mnuchin doesn’t deny requesting the jet, though he suggests it was out of concern for national security.

A final note:

As of Sept. 14, 2017, the day after the ABC story, the Treasury Department’s inspector general’s office was looking at all requests for, and use of, government aircraft by Mnuchin, that office told reporters.

The inquiry was launched after Mnuchin and his wife took a trip to Kentucky just ahead of the August 2017 solar eclipse. Mnuchin held an event with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and visited Fort Knox, where he and Linton viewed the eclipse near the path of totality, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Treasury officials defended that visit as official government travel and said Mnuchin would reimburse the government for bringing his wife along.

Our rating

Pocan says Mnuchin "wants to use a government jet that costs $25,000 per hour for his honeymoon."

Pocan’s use of wants wrongly suggests it is a pending request, and the news report he cites said the jet could cost $25,000 an hour.

But essentially Pocan is on target: Mnuchin put in a request for a government plane to take him and his wife to their honeymoon destinations, though he did not use one.

We rate Pocan’s statement Mostly True.

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Mostly True
Says U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin "wants to use a government jet that costs $25,000 per hour for his honeymoon."
In a tweet
Wednesday, September 13, 2017