Oversight Dems seek hearings on Trump officials’ travel controversies
Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are asking the panel’s GOP chairman to convene hearings on recent controversies over taxpayer-funded travel by Trump administration officials.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the committee’s top Democrat, wrote to Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) Tuesday to complain that some federal agencies and officials aren’t complying with a September request sent to 25 agencies inquiring about official travel costs.
Trump officials like Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price have come under fire over the last year for taxpayer-funded travel, including frequently flying first class or using charter or military aircraft.
Cummings and Gowdy have come together to investigate many of the controversies, but Cummings complained that the executive branch hasn’t always been cooperative.
“For example, the White House has openly refused to provide any documents in response to these requests, despite the fact that Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway traveled on some of the same charter flights with Secretary Price that led to his dismissal and refunding some of these funds to the American taxpayers,” he wrote in his letter with Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (Ill.), the top Democrat on the panel’s Subcommittee on Healthcare, Benefits and Administrative Rules.
Cummings said Gowdy also refused to either issue a subpoena unilaterally or allow a committee vote on a subpoena.
“Many agencies — including the White House — have refused to provide the information our Committee has requested to conduct our investigation, and without subpoenas, we cannot effectively investigate this manner,” the lawmakers said.
“As representatives of the American taxpayers, we are responsible for ensuring that their hard-earned money is not wasted. The extensive use of noncommercial aircraft by multiple members of the Trump administration is disrespectful to the American taxpayers who foot the bill for these expenses.”
Gowdy’s staff did not immediately comment on the letter.