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October 31, 2008

US Attorney General Mukasey Costs Taxpayers $155,800 for Personal Trips

by BN-Politics | Add Attorney General Michael Mukasey to the long list of Bush Administration officials and Republicans generally (cf.) who consider themselves entitled to use tax dollars to fund their travel expenses. (McClatchy)  We just learned that Palin had the citizens of Alaska paying to fly her family around.  Now: the Attorney General of the United States.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey has taken personal trips on government jets almost every weekend since he took office less than a year ago at a cost to taxpayers of more than $155,800, Justice Department and Federal Aviation Administration travel records show.

Mukasey took so many trips to his home in New York on FAA, FBI or Drug Enforcement Administration planes that he was outside Washington a third or more of February, May, July, August and September. From November 2007 to September 2008, he traveled to New York 45 times, according to the records, which were released in late October in response to open records requests that McClatchy filed nine months ago.(McClatchy)

Okay, let's  be fair.  It seems that he had to take government jets.

Justice Department officials defended Mukasey's personal travel, saying that he has no choice but to fly on a government plane to see his family. Mukasey, unlike most other Cabinet members, is required to fly on government planes, rather than commercial ones, for security reasons, and he often worked from home, the officials said.(McClatchy)

We're just not sure we see why he had to travel so often or with family members.

Mukasey reimbursed the government a total of $15,246 for all of his trips, based on round-trip coach fares, as he's required to do by government travel regulations. However, the cost of operating the Gulfstream G5s, Cessna Citations and de Havilland Dash 8-100s that Mukasey uses is tens of thousands of dollars more.

For example, the attorney general reimbursed the Justice Department $128.80 for a round-trip ticket to New York. The actual cost to the government, according to the department: $4,021.32.

In February, Mukasey flew to Orlando, Fla. with his wife and four other relatives. Under travel regulations, officials who are required to travel by government aircraft are permitted to take relatives with them as long as they reimburse the taxpayers for the equivalent coach fare, which Mukasey did, officials said. For that trip, he paid $2,173. The actual cost to the government, according to the Justice Department: $12,250.

Mukasey's personal trips appear to outpace those of other officials who are required to travel on government jets.(McClatchy)

Prairie Weather:

It's the frequency that does it.  Each reimbursement covers less than 10% of the actual costs of travel on government carriers.  When Mukasey overused the system, we were paying for it.  10%, by the way, is only slightly more than what the average American has lost in disposable income over the past years.

We already know there won't be any consequences.  But it's simply another proof that Bush Administration officials have considered that the limitations that apply to ordinary folks don't apply to them.  It's the taxpayer who takes the consequences.  Presented for your consideration, from Think Progress:

The White House is working to enact a wide array of federal regulations, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment.” Some of the new rules, which are “among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era,” would ease controls on emissions of pollutants, relax drinking-water standards and lift restrictions on mountaintop coal mining.

The federal Bureau of Land Management “is reviving plans to sell oil and gas leases in pristine wilderness areas in eastern Utah that have long been protected from development.” “The proposed sale, which includes famous areas in the Nine Mile Canyon region, would take place Dec. 19, a month before President Bush leaves office.”

According to Justice Department and FAA records, “Attorney General Michael Mukasey has taken personal trips on government jets almost every weekend since he took office less than a year ago at a cost to taxpayers of more than $155,800.” Mukasey was out of Washington on personal trips “for almost half or more of February, May, July and September” and traveled home 45 times from Nov. 2007 to Sept. 2008.

True, the funds devoured by Mukasey are just a tiny part of the waste of money and depredation of resources under George Bush's irresponsible reign as the most unrestrained wealth-redistributing (to his cronies and friends) executive in history. 

But Mukasey's travel expenses are a fractional part of the answer to the trillion-dollar question:  Where does all the money go?  ANSWER: To the Iraq war, to bail-outs, and to fund fun for administration officials.

Memeorandum has blogger responses


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