FACT CHECK: Did Mnuchin Cost Taxpayers $25K To Fly On A Military Jet?
ABC’s Martha Raddatz claimed Sunday that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s choice to use an Air Force jet to travel between New York and Washington, D.C. in August cost the taxpayers $25,000 an hour.
Mnuchin disputed the figure in the interview, saying the cost was lower. The Daily Caller News Foundation investigated whether Mnuchin’s flight cost $25,000 an hour.
The military spends roughly $25,000 per hour to operate the aircraft in question. Mnuchin appears to have had a lower hourly cost in mind – the amount the Department of Defense actually charges federal agencies to use the plane. This hourly rate is about $10,000.
Amid reports that the Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General is reviewing Mnuchin’s travel practices, Raddatz asked the secretary about a recent trip from New York to D.C. “The plane cost $25,000 an hour,” claimed Raddatz. “Why couldn’t you just take a shuttle?”
Mnuchin responded that he needed the plane for secure communications while traveling and challenged the accuracy of the hourly cost. “You can check with the Pentagon, because that’s not what they charge,” said Mnuchin.
TheDCNF checked with the Department of Defense, and both Raddatz and Mnuchin appear to have been citing two different hourly rates.
The C-37 plane used by Mnuchin costs the Air Force roughly $25,000 per hour to operate, including the cost of personnel, maintenance and other support services.
But the Department of Defense charges federal agencies far less for use of the aircraft. In the case of Mnuchin’s recent trip, the Treasury Department would have been charged about $10,000 for an hour of flight. Mnuchin may have been thinking of this lower figure.
The Treasury Department did not respond to a request for comment.
Although Mnuchin challenged the accuracy of the $25,000 figure, he readily conceded that the flight was expensive nonetheless. “It doesn’t cost $25,000 an hour, but it costs a lot of money,” said Mnuchin.
The DoD calls government aircraft transport a “premium mode of travel involving high costs and limited resources” and advises that government travel costs be kept to a minimum.
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