The Members of Trump’s Team Who Simply Burn Through Taxpayer Dollars
Sometimes, you have to look at the Trump White House and think, “What a time to be alive.” Sure, folks like Steve Bannon (fired) and Michael Flynn (guilty plea to the FBI) are gone, but Ambassador Callista Gingrich (Vatican) and Secretary Ben Carson (Housing and Urban Development) remain.
Being incompetent and unqualified seem to come with the territory, and that was clear during the nomination process. After all, when Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spoke about saving schools from bear attacks, it didn’t bode well for America’s students.
However, once people learn how much money Trump officials are wasting on personal luxuries, you see how ugly the situation has become. Here are the Trump administration officials who burn through taxpayer dollars at an alarming rate.
8. David Shulkin, Secretary of Veteran Affairs
If you like to mix business and pleasure, then Veteran Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin is your man. During a 2017 trip through Copenhagen and London, Shulkin did a little business before taking in tennis at Wimbledon. Total cost to taxpayers: $122,334, according to an Inspector General review.
However, the story only began there. It turned out Shulkin also had staff members invent some ceremony in Copenhagen in order to secure a $4,300 plane ticket for his wife.
After he was caught lying about it, as well as Wimbledon tickets he accepted as a gift (another ethics violation), Shulkin tried to explain himself before Congress in February 2018. It didn’t go well.
Next: This White House staffer flies around the world handling everything and nothing for President Trump.
7. Jared Kushner, White House Senior Adviser
Everyone agrees Jared Kushner has more responsibilities than he can handle. However, if you asked anyone what Trump’s son-in-law has accomplished since moving to Washington, that question is much harder to answer. We’re certain he hasn’t solved the opioid crisis or brought peace to the Middle East (two things in his portfolio).
Yet off Jared went, flying to Iraq in April 2017 on the sort of flight that costs $25,000 per hour. In October of the same year, Kushner ended up in Saudi Arabia promoting his peace mission.
Previously, we found him, his wife, his brother-in-law, and about 100 Secret Service agents in Colorado for a ski jaunt. Just the Secret Service ski equipment rentals alone cost taxpayers $12,208 that trip. We don’t want to guess what the flights and everything else cost, but it was certainly hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Next: This Trump official railed against government waste yet spent $500,000 on flights over a few months.
6. Tom Price, ex-Secretary of Health and Human Services
When Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price proposed cutting 15% of his department’s budget in 2017, people took it as a sign of a fiscal conservative doing his job. Unfortunately, some dogged reporting by Politico revealed Price was incredibly wasteful in his brief time as secretary.
Using a private military jet for overseas travel, Price managed to spend over $500,000 in a few months. It also turned out he spent tens of thousands of government funds on travel to visit his son and personal properties.
By the time he resigned over the scandal, Price had run up a tab exceeding $1 million for taxpayers in about eight months. He left Washington with his tail between his legs and a promise to pay back some of the money. In December, Price reimbursed taxpayers for $57,500. The other $942,500 is on the house, we suppose.
Next: This Trump official wanted military planes for his honeymoon and a good look at the solar eclipse.
5. Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury
To be fair to Steven Mnuchin, he has never worked in government before, so maybe he’s just ignorant of how the system works. Certainly, you’re not allowed to use a military jet for your honeymoon or to fly across the country with your wife to see a solar eclipse.
This administration shooting down the honeymoon request was something of a profile in courage. However, the couple did fly to Kentucky during eclipse time, ABC reported. Munchin’s wife tagged her Instagram post showing the landing with hashtags labeling her Hermes scarf and Tom Ford “sunnies,” among other designer items.
Later, Mnuchin said he was in Kentucky to “see the gold” in Fort Knox, not for the eclipse. No one believed him.
Next: This White House official took the amazing leap from handbag designer to a seat at the table with heads of state.
4. Ivanka Trump, White House Special Adviser
What would Ivanka Trump have been if she had been born to, say, a lower-middle-class family in Arkansas? It’s a great “what if” to kick around with your friends. However, we do know she was famous on social media and had a branded line of products — much like Paris Hilton, another Manhattan socialite born into wealth — before her time in D.C.
When her father became president, that less-than-historic resumé landed Ivanka the job of trusted White House adviser. Along with that title comes full-time Secret Service protection and her travel covered at taxpayer expense. So simply hopping aboard Air Force One sit in at G20 meetings with her father costs taxpayers a fortune.
The same goes for the jaunt to South Korea to “represent America,” as her father put it prior to Ivanka’s appearance at the Olympics. You can’t help getting the feeling Trump’s daughter is, to quote White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, “playing government.” It’s quite an expensive game for taxpayers to finance.
Next: The EPA chief flies first-class to avoid feeling uncomfortable.
3. Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator
You can look at Scott Pruitt’s time at the EPA in several ways. For example, as the first agency head to ever have a 24-hour security detail, you might say he’s paranoid. When you consider the $25,000 soundproof “privacy booth” he had installed in his office, you might say he’s extravagantly paranoid — at least when taxpayers foot the bill.
Then there’s the first-class travel, including frequent weekend layovers in his home state of Oklahoma. Pruitt casually spent $1,641 flying from D.C. to New York and $7,000 for round-trip service to Italy, The Washington Post learned. But these costs were nothing compared to the 637-mile flight from Cincinnati to the Big Apple, which cost $36,000.
Whether by military jet, business class, or your average first-class ticket, Pruitt separates himself from coach passengers because he said he has been threatened. So the EPA administrator’s uncomfortable moments led to an $832,735 tab for his security team (salary and travel) in three months. That amount was about double what Pruitt’s predecessors cost.
Next: This member of the Trump Cabinet turned a $300 ticket into a $12,000 pleasure trip.
2. Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior
When a government official can pass up a ticket valued at a few hundred dollars for a $12,000 flight at taxpayer expense, you might believe he has contempt for the entire concept of public service. Welcome to the world of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a man who has a special flag flown for him when he’s working in Washington D.C.
Politico also reported Zinke passed on a commercial flight between the U.S. Virgin Islands in March 2017. Again, he turned a cheap trip into a massive expense on the government’s dime. Later in the year, Zinke and his wife took military jets from the U.S. to Norway, returning by way of Alaska on the way home.
Going by the cost of $25,000 per hour, those flights would easily eclipse $300,000. According to the same Politico article, Zinke also used military helicopters for two different trips in June 2017.
Next: No one burns through taxpayer dollars like the president, whose travel mostly involves golf at his own resorts.
1. Donald Trump, POTUS
As president, Donald Trump has many official duties, and the level of protection required to move him safely around the world comes at great taxpayer expense. Most people consider these costs justified.
Traveling to Mar-a-Lago to play golf and schmooze, on the other hand, would qualify as a complete waste of taxpayer money. In a mere 13 months, Trump burned through $56 million of taxpayer money just on his golf trips. Nearly half that went to revving up Air Force One so he could hit the links at his own club in Florida.
Fiscal conservatism: Ain’t it grand?
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