DOJ spends millions on ‘nonmission’ luxury travel for Attorney Generals, FBI director

A Government Accountability Office report reveals that the Justice Department has spent $11.4 million to fly the Attorney General and FBI director on FBI luxury jets for travel unrelated to the agency’s mission.

Iowa Republican and ranking judiciary committee member Sen. Chuck Grassley — who requested GAO look into Justice Department aircraft being used to for “nonmission” reasons — released the report Thursday.

“These luxury jets were supposedly needed for counterterrorism, but it turns out that they were used almost two-thirds of the time for jet-setting executive travel instead,” Grassley said. “Nobody disputes that the Attorney General and the FBI Director should have access to the secure communications, but, for instance, there’s no reason they can’t take a less expensive mode of transportation, or cut their personal travel.”

The GAO looked at nonmission jet use from 2007-2011. In that timeframe, the report explains, the “three individuals who served as Attorney General (AG) and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) accounted for 95 percent (659 out of 697 flights) of all Department of Justice (DOJ) executive nonmission flights using DOJ aircraft at a total cost of $11.4 million.”

According to the report, personal flights accounted for 24 percent of nonmission flights and that the AGs and FBI director reimbursed that travel “in accordance with federal requirements.” Yet, as the report notes, that reimbursement “is generally less than the cost of operating a government aircraft” as it is largely reimbursed at the cost of a commercial rate.

Additionally, the GAO report revealed that over those five years DOJ spent $1.5 million to fly jets several miles from “an undisclosed location in the Washington area” to Reagan National Airport to pick up the Attorney General and FBI director Robert Mueller. The report notes that the FBI considers these “positioning flights to be necessary” because the location is “covert.”

“The taxpayers expect some discretion on this type of thing. I’m really interested in how the Attorney General can claim that federal law enforcement agents will be cut, knowing that over the last 5 years the Department has allowed for millions of dollars to be spent on personal travel. It’s ludicrous,” Grassley added. “The hypocrisy from the administration when they say that ‘the cuts apply to you, but not to me’ is hard to believe.”