March 23, 2018

New Duckworth Bill Would Require Public Disclosure of Trump Administration’s Travel Spending

Trump Cabinet officials have wasted exorbitant amounts of taxpayer dollars traveling on private planes & purchasing first class tickets


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – After several Trump Administration senior officials including Secretaries Zinke, Mnuchin and Pruitt violated the Federal Travel Regulation by wasting exorbitant amounts of taxpayer dollars on inappropriate travel expenses like charter jets and first class airfare, U.S Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced legislation today to help ensure the Trump Administration—and any future administration—spends taxpayer dollars more responsibly. Duckworth’s new Federal Travel Transparency Act would increase transparency and oversight by making the air travel activities of cabinet secretaries and agency leaders available to the public online and requiring that the data be in an open, easily accessible format.

“Every public servant has a responsibility to be a good steward of public dollars but it’s clear that Donald Trump and his Cabinet secretaries do not always see it that way,” said Duckworth. “When Trump Administration officials spend thousands of taxpayer dollars to charter a private or military plane or purchase a first-class ticket, they should—at the very least—be required to tell the American people who are bankrolling their luxurious travel why it is necessary. By shining a light on the travel practices of Trump Cabinet officials, this bill would protect taxpayers from the Trump Administration’s wasteful spending on needless luxury travel.”

The Federal Travel Transparency Act follows a number of reports revealing Trump Cabinet Secretaries have spent an exorbitant amount of taxpayer dollars to fly themselves around the country and the world on private and military planes and in first-class. For instance, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is being investigated for mixing government travel with political events, and he is under public scrutiny this week for bringing his government-funded security detail on a two-week vacation to Europe last summer. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spent nearly $1 million dollars to charter eight flights on U.S. military planes, and he even requested the use of a military aircraft to fly him and his wife around Europe on their honeymoon before withdrawing his request after coming under public scrutiny. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt spent more than $163,000 of taxpayer dollars on air travel in 2017, including $105,000 on first class seats that he insists are necessary for his security. Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was also forced to resign last year after reports revealed he unnecessarily spent more than $1 million to travel on dozens of private and government planes instead of taking cheaper, widely available commercial alternatives.

Senator Duckworth’s new good government legislation does not seek to reinvent the wheel on travel rules and would avoid establishing new bureaucracies or offices. It would simply require the government to publicly disclose, on a quarterly basis, the official air travel activities of agency leadership, including the duration, destination(s), travel party, justification and costs of official travel on an existing website such as That would save the government from having to expend resources responding to numerous FOIA requests for agency leadership travel information, while pushing top administration officials to make better official travel decisions and allow the public to track how its taxpayer dollars are being spent. was created by the bipartisan Coburn-Obama Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, which then-U.S. Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) passed to increase transparency of federal spending.

The Federal Travel Transparency Act has been endorsed by the Sunlight Foundation and the Project On Government Oversight (POGO). More information on the Federal Travel Transparency Act is available here and here. A list of the positions in the administration it would apply to is available here.