Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin inquired about the use of a military plane for his European honeymoon last month, the Treasury Department confirmed on Wednesday, a disclosure that comes as he is already under scrutiny for taking a government plane to Kentucky before viewing the Aug. 21 solar eclipse.
The Treasury Department said Mnuchin had asked about the military plane so that he would have access to secure communications when he was abroad.
“It is imperative that he have access to secure communications, and it is our practice to consider a wide range of options to ensure he has these capabilities during his travel, including the possible use of military aircraft,” a Treasury spokesman said in a statement.
According to the spokesman, Treasury officials withdrew the request after finding an alternative way to communicate about government matters securely. He noted that Mnuchin is a member of the National Security Council with responsibility for the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
Mnuchin and his wife, Louise Linton, a Scottish-born actress, were married in June.
The revelation about the request, which was first disclosed by ABC News, quickly drew a backlash on social media, with critics accusing Mnuchin, a multimillionaire former hedge fund manager, of seeking to use taxpayer funds to finance his personal travel.
It comes as Mnuchin is leading the Trump administration’s push to overhaul the tax code, which he has promised to make more fair for middle-class Americans.
Mnuchin and Linton had already come under criticism for their trip last month to Kentucky, where they traveled together for a tax reform event. Linton created a firestorm when she mocked a woman who had criticized her on Instagram for promoting luxury brands while traveling to a poor part of the country.
The couple did travel by government plane on that trip, and the Treasury Department’s inspector general is reviewing the flight and whether any ethical violations occurred.
Treasury officials traditionally fly on commercial aircraft except in extenuating circumstances, because government planes can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to operate. Some suggested Mnuchin made the trip to Fort Knox by government plane so that he would have optimal viewing of the solar eclipse that occurred that day.
Richard Delmar, counsel to the inspector general, said in a statement, “We are looking at all requests for use of government aircraft.”