US Treasury watchdog reviews Mnuchin's eclipse trip

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(AP)

A federal watchdog is reviewing the circumstances surrounding a controversial flight taken by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his wife to Kentucky, where he spoke to business leaders and viewed the solar eclipse, according to The Washington Post.

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A counsel for the Treasury's Office of Inspector General told the Post in a statement late on Thursday that the flight was being reviewed "to determine whether all applicable travel, ethics and appropriation laws were observed."

The Post said Democratic Senator Ron Wyden last week requested a “detailed explanation” of the travel and justification for use of the government aircraft. It said Treasury secretaries and other Cabinet members not involved in national security have traditionally flown on government aircraft on rare occasions, usually taking commercial flights for domestic travel.

The former hedge fund manager and his wife, actress Louise Linton, stirred controversy last week when they traveled to Louisville and Fort Knox, Kentucky, where they viewed the solar eclipse with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others.

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Treasury officials have said the trip was official government travel, with Mnuchin speaking to Louisville business leaders before visiting Fort Knox, where a large portion of the U.S. gold reserves are held.

Linton helped touch off the controversy by posting a photo of herself on social media getting off a U.S. government plane and listing the designer brands she was wearing. That triggered a spat between Linton and critics angered by the display of wealth and privilege.

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Rich Delmar, counsel for the Treasury's Office of Inspector General, told the Post the office was looking into various issues raised by the flight.

"When our review is complete, we will advise the appropriate officials, in accordance with the Inspector General Act and established procedures," he said in the statement.

(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Susan Heavey and Phil Berlowitz)

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