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 TillersonWhite House ousts Sessions Trump downplays potential turnover: 'Everybody wants to work in this White House' Trump says Cabinet changes likely after midterms 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 ClintonMeet the lawyer Democrats call when it's recount time Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Mattis defends border deployment during visit to troops | Bolton aide exits WH after clash with first lady | House blocks Yemen war resolution | Report warns of erosion in US military superiority Exit polls show more women breaking with Republicans MORE used military aircraft to travel from Washington, D.C., to New York, according to a FOIA obtained by Judicial Watch. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMeet the lawyer Democrats call when it's recount time Avenatti denies domestic violence allegations: 'I have never struck a woman' Trump names handbag designer as ambassador to South Africa MORE dismissed Tillerson as secretary of state in March and replaced him with Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump names handbag designer as ambassador to South Africa Senators return to Washington intent on action against Saudis State Department believes missing U.S. journalist is alive in Syria: report MORE. His exit marked the end of what became a tenuous relationship.