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Trump Travelgate Travails

Under pressure from Trump after his failure to get the Affordable Care Act repealed and the revelations of “price” gauging tax payers for over a million dollars spent on private and military jets, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price resigned/a>.

His abrupt departure was announced an hour after Trump told reporters he was disappointed in Price’s use of expensive plane travel and did not like the optics of it.

“Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas Price offered his resignation earlier today and the president accepted,” the White House said in a statement.

Price isn’t the only one using private and military jets to ferry themselves to meetings with family members and on jaunts to Europe.

Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin used a military jet to Fort Knox, Kentucky to view the solar eclipse with his wife. Granted, they did reimburse the government for the wife’s air fare. This is not the only time he has used private or military jets to travel for personal reasons. He requested a military jet for his honeymoon trip to Europe but was denied. That hasn’t stop him though. Mnuchin used a military jet to return to Washington after an appearance at Trump Tower in New York City. I guess Jet Blue wasn’t good enough. he has declined to commit to only using commercial travel for the rest of his time at the agency.

“I can promise the American taxpayer that the only time that I will be using mil (sic military) air is when there are issues either for national security or we have to get to various different things where there’s no other means,” he said on CBS ‘This Morning.’

Then there is EPA administrator Scott Pruitt who used a private plane and military jet to travel for government duties instead of flying commercial for trips over the summer.

Pruitt flew from Cincinnati to New York’s JFK airport on an Air Force jet on June 7. He then continued to Italy for an international summit on a commercial flight, an EPA spokesman told CNN. [..]

Pruitt flew from Cincinnati to New York’s JFK airport on an Air Force jet on June 7. He then continued to Italy for an international summit on a commercial flight, an EPA spokesman told CNN.

Besides Pruitt’s travel abuse, he has triple his security detail pulling field agents who would normally investigating environmental crimes.

The EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division is providing Pruitt’s 24/7 security detail, a labor-intensive responsibility that has resulted in special agents being pulled from their regular posts investigating environmental crimes. These agents are armed federal law enforcement officers who typically investigate cases such as the dumping of hazardous waste, improper disposal of dangerous substances like asbestos, and pollution of drinking water. Some are former FBI agents.
The EPA’s Inspector General’s Office said it has been asked to investigate whether Pruitt’s security detail is a proper use of environmental enforcement officers, and whether the practice detracts from the agency’s mission of cracking down on environmental crimes. Citing its policy, the Inspector General’s Office declined to say whether it was investigating the complaints.

But that isn’t all of Pruitt’s abuses of power. The EPA is spending almost $25,000 to install a “secure phone booth” in his office.

Typically, such soundproof booths are used to conduct hearing tests. But the EPA sought a customized version — one that eventually would cost several times more than a typical model — that Pruitt can use to communicate privately.

“They had a lot of modifications,” said Steve Snider, an acoustic sales consultant with the company, who worked with the agency on its order earlier this summer. “Their main goal was they wanted essentially a secure phone booth that couldn’t be breached from a data point of view or from someone standing outside eavesdropping.”

No previous EPA administrators had such a setup. [..]

But according to former agency employees, the EPA has long maintained a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility) on a separate floor from the administrator’s office, where officials with proper clearances can go to share information classified as secret.

At least Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos uses her own private jet and does not bill the government. Not a bad idea for a billionaire. Maybe Trump and his kids should take the hint.

Thursday night it was reported hat Interior Secretary and former congressman from Montana, Ryan Zinke took chartered jets on a trip to the Virgin Islands and to his second home in Montana, When aasked to comment, Zinke called the scrutiny “a little BS.”

Then late Friday, the Washington Post revealed that Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, his wife and an entourage took a ten day jaunt to Europe visiting castles, toured Westminster Abbey, a tennis match a Wimbledon and river trip on the Thames. This was two weeks after he had issued a memo to his staff about restricting unnecessary travel.

Meanwhile the extravagant Trump family is costing tax payers millions just to protect them. Meanwhile the Trump Organization is making a fortune off his presidency. Maybe Trump’s cabinet was just following their boss’s example who took off for his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club for the weekend. Perhaps his cabinet members are just taking a cue from their boss.

Grifters gotta grift.