Watchdog org: Tillerson used $1 million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US

Watchdog org: Tillerson used $1 million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US
© Greg Nash

A watchdog organization estimated that former Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonGary Cohn: 'I haven't made up my mind' on vote for president in November Kushner says 'Alice in Wonderland' describes Trump presidency: Woodward book Conspicuous by their absence from the Republican Convention MORE spent more than $1 million in taxpayer funds to fly around the United States in military jets during his time in the Trump administration.

Tillerson used the military jets 15 times to travel to places such as Texas, and West Virginia, according to government documents the nonpartisan watchdog American Oversight obtained, as first reported by Huffington Post.

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The news outlet notes that five of Tillerson's trips in military jets were clearly marked as "personal travel" in the Department of State's memos to the Defense Department. 

There are no clear references regarding Tillerson's other 10 trips. 

The $1 million figure is based on the documents American Oversight received through its Freedom of Information Act request, according to HuffPost. The documents the group obtained only included costs for the military aircraft on two of the former secretary of state's trips. 

His trip from Texas to Colorado to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland in May 2017 reportedly cost $82,212, and his trip to Texas cost $56,218.50 in June 2017. 

It cost $10,075 per hour to manage the aircraft used on those trips, which the group then used as its basis to estimate the collective sum of Tillerson's 15 trips. 

American Oversight estimated that Tillerson used $1,039,136 in taxpayer money on the flights, according to HuffPost. 

Heather Nauert, a spokesperson for the State Department, pushed back against the idea that Tillerson's travel represented any wrongdoing. 

“Every Secretary of State — regardless of whether they serve in a Democrat or Republican administration — must be protected by a security detail and have access to secure communications at all times, and DOD aircraft are equipped to provide that capability,” Nauert said in a statement to the news outlet. “When utilizing DOD aircraft for personal travel, all Secretaries of State reimburse the government at the rate required by law.” 

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for further comment from The Hill. 

HuffPost noted that past secretaries of state have used government aircraft to make stops at home. For example, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBloomberg rolls out M ad buy to boost Biden in Florida Hillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close Trump pledges to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, designate KKK a terrorist group in pitch to Black voters MORE used military aircraft to travel from Washington, D.C., to New York, according to a FOIA obtained by Judicial Watch. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE dismissed Tillerson as secretary of state in March and replaced him with Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoWatchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump Trump's push for win with Sudan amps up pressure on Congress  Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize MORE. His exit marked the end of what became a tenuous relationship.