Government Spending

Fake Scandal: 'DeVos Uses Private Jet for Work-Related Travel'

Real scandals: Tom Price charters five flights in a week and Steven Mnuchin wants a military plane for his honeymoon.


Today The Hill published a story about Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and then tweeted it out.

Here's the tweet:

I get it; stories about government officials abusing the public funds for travel are hot right now. After all, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was just caught trying to snag a military jet for his European honeymoon. And Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price is in trouble for chartering five flights last week alone. Rightly so.

But wait! Clicking on the Hill story yields some highly relevant info:

Education Department Press Secretary Liz Hill told the Associated Press on Thursday that DeVos travels completely on her own dime, accepting no government reimbursement for flights or other expenses.

Of course government officials have special needs, but they are too often used to justify status-oriented extravagance. In Mnuchin's case, the request for a government jet was initially claimed as a necessity for a member of the National Security Council. But as The New York Times dryly explained: "Treasury officials withdrew the request after finding an alternative way to communicate about government matters securely."

As for Price, an HHS spokesman said "when commercial aircraft cannot reasonably accommodate travel requirements, charter aircraft can be used for official travel." Which sounds sort of OK-ish until you realize one of those flights was from D.C. to Philadelphia. As Politico noted when it broke the story:

On one leg of the trip—a sprint from Dulles International Airport to Philadelphia International Airport, a distance of 135 miles—there was a commercial flight that departed at roughly the same time: Price's charter left Dulles at 8:27 a.m., and a United Airlines flight departed for Philadelphia at 8:22 a.m., according to airport records….

In addition, Amtrak ran four trains starting at 7 a.m. that left Washington's Union Station and arrived at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station no later than 9:58 a.m. The least-expensive ticket, on the 7:25 a.m. train, costs $72 when booked in advance. It is just a 125-mile drive from HHS headquarters in downtown Washington to the Mirmont Treatment Center outside of Philadelphia, where Price spoke. Google Maps estimates the drive as about 2½ hours. A one-way trip was estimated by travel planners to be about $30 in gasoline per SUV plus no more than $16 in tolls.

DeVos is lucky enough to be a very rich woman. But you needn't be wealthy to be a good steward of taxpayer money—luckily, domestic and international commercial flights are numerous, reliable, and relatively cheap (though not as numerous, reliable, and relatively cheap as they could be—read all about it in the next issue of Reason). Chartered jets from D.C. Philly are absurd, but so is trying to lump DeVos in with Price and Mnuchin.

After all, as The Hill reported:

During her time in office…DeVos has charged travel expenses to the government just once: $184 to the Department of Education for round-trip Amtrak ticket between D.C. and Philadelphia.

NEXT: Feminist Porn Isn't Free

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. So Betsy DeVos is too good for public transportation.

    1. The left is so scare of that woman, they never want to suggest so she might be too good for public transportation because then Trump might appoint her to Secretary of the Dept. of Transportation.

      I did look the Dept of Transportation up and never heard anything about an Asian-American woman being the first in US history. Maybe the media will cover this next week.
      Secretary Elaine L. Chao is currently the U. S. Secretary of Transportation. This is her second cabinet position. She served as U.S. Secretary of Labor from 2001-January 2009, and is the first Asian American woman to be appointed to the President’s cabinet in American history.

      Women are not important if they are conservative.

      1. Sorry. grammar is all crazy today.

        Anyway, Trump is literally Hitler for having so many women in his cabinet. F*ing Hitler!

      2. The problem is Republicans love to prove themselves right about affirmative action. Please list Ms. DeVos’s qualifications for her post.

        1. Better than Obama’s qualifications for Senator or President.

          1. Racist fuckface.

            1. THAT’s Obama’s quals for office?!? Color me surprised.

              1. It’s a moot point anyway considering what a good job he did.

                1. I see, as soon as you lose an argument, you declare it moot because … *waves hands* … success!

                  1. The argument being, is it OK for Betsy DeVos to be an incompetent because you claim Obama was too?

                    1. Pretty sure the argument is she’s plenty qualified if you don’t consider the imaginary requirement that she must be a prog.

                    2. What has she done that’s incompetent?

            2. So, his qualification is that he’s black and anyone who doesn’t like him is racist?

              You realize you’re a caricature of yourself?

        2. She served on the boards of several education-related non-profits, including several that she was founder or co-founder of. She’s (approximately) a right-wing equivalent of Arne Duncan.

    2. “So Betsy DeVos is too good for public transportation.”

      And when they saw she walked on water, WAPO headlined a story:
      “DeVos Can’t Swim!”

  2. I can imagine their hot take on Menendez. Any day now.

  3. round-trip Amtrak ticket between D.C. and Philadelphia.

    Ugh, that’s as leftist as someone can get.

    1. Only if she put artisanal mayo on the dining-car ham sandwich.

      1. What kind of monster puts mayo on a ham sandwich?

        1. *Sheepishly raises hand*

          In my defense, my wife usually makes the sandwiches at the Spock household.

  4. The hatred for DeVod is just so misplaced and out of proportion both to the power she has and to the threat she poses that I don’t understand it. I don’t get why people hate her so vehemently much. Tons of people think she’s worse than Trump. The hatred is insane.

    1. I really don’t understand it either. She was one of the most battled confirmations. My only guess is that public education is perhaps the tent pole of Democrats. Thus, her totally middle-of-the-road support for school choice is a threat to that.

      1. public education is perhaps the tent pole of Democrats

        Yup. Other than minorities, probably their most reliable voting block. And even better than the minorities, a vast source of guaranteed campaign finance.

        1. Not only that, the power that being in control of 12 years of basically mandatory education allows.

        2. “And even better than the minorities, a vast source of guaranteed campaign finance.”

          “Teachers unions have steadily amped up their political involvement: From 2004 to 2016, their donations grew from $4.3 million to more than $32 million — an all-time high. Even more than most labor unions, they have little use for Republicans, giving Democrats at least 94 percent of the funds they contributed to candidates and parties since as far back as 1990, where our data begins.”

          1. Follow the money.
            Democrats are behaving like a cornered animal because that’s how they perceive their situation.

      2. Apparently her parents once donated to a creationist group or something. I’ve heard multiple friends say that she wants to force prayer into school and stop teaching evolution, both of which are outright lies. It’s shocking how many people who mock Fox News are brainwashed by the same type of bullshit propaganda from HuffPo, Vox, Buzzfeed, MotherJones, Slate, etc.
        Kinda scary actually. My generation really does suck.

        1. don’t worry Colorblindkid I’m on facebook with several generations and their hatred of DeVos is over the top, and its mostly the women

          1. You could also say, the most easily influenced / most agreeable / least skeptical.

      3. It’s because as so often happens in Republican administrations, she’s been appointed to a post to oversee programs she has a dogmatic agenda to dismantle.

        1. So surgeons shouldn’t be put in charge of cancer because they want to dismantle tumors?

          1. Well, maybe one of these days Republicans will demonstrate competence at governing, or their philosophy of government a success, so such analogies will make sense.

            1. Ah, you admit you want to be governed! No wonder you’re such a misfit here. Some of us like to govern ourselves. But I guess you just have to know your limitations.

              1. How nice. You know who else wants to govern themselves? People who would trespass on your property and murder you. That cool?

                1. Ahhh good old Tony, pretending to not understand even the simplest concepts, like “property” and “non-aggression”. No wonder spontaneous organization is so far beyond his intellect.

                2. I can protect my property without help from the government. Regarding breaking and entering, all the police can do is show up after the fact to take a report.

                  1. You can only do that because government grants an exception to you on the general principle that you can’t harm others. There is no property or property rights (or self-defense rights) without government legitimizing them. Otherwise whoever shoots first has the rights.

                    1. There is no property or property rights (or self-defense rights) without government legitimizing them
                      Communist article of faith. Private dispute resolution already exists, despite your blissful ignorance.

                    2. Actually its in the bill of rights, which was created for the explicit purpose of making clear these rights aren’t granted by the government but instead are fundamental rights that exist in spite of the government.

                      But that’s okay, you keep pretending that the earth spins because of government.

            2. Well, maybe one of these days Republicans will demonstrate competence at governing

              Not many Republicans need the press to advise them on what their administration is doing. Obama seemed to have that problem.

              And do you REALLY want to compare effective governance between Republicans and Democrats?

            3. So, you don’t have an actual objection to her, and you’re just following marching orders and hating her because R.

    2. Please list her qualifications. Bonus points for telling me how you’d feel about her if she had a (D) after her name.

      1. Please list Obama’s qualifications for any office prior to his first election. Hell, I’d like to see his qualifications for Community Organizer!

        1. He only held the most prestigious post for any law student on the planet.

          1. Well shiver me timbers. Law student! I never. I can’t even.

            1. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the president of the Harvard Law Review is the most likely student in the world to eventually be president or supreme court justice.

              Why are you defending Republican hacks anyway? You know you people are more deferential to that political party than Breitbart?

              1. DeVos has more common sense from a lifetime of experience than Obama ever will, and he sure didn’t have any at Harvard.

                “You people” shows your collectivist heart. You simply cannot conceive of anyyone doing things individually.

                “Republican” shows how you cannot conceive of anything outside a political party.

                The fun of needling you (and not “you all” or even “all y’all”) is how it brings out your inner soul for all to see.

                1. But you are defending a largely derided Republican appointee who you’d never defend if she were a Democrat. Are we even going to pretend otherwise?

                  Why are you guys more partisan hacks than Breitbart?

                  1. Why do you assume that not fellating Obama is the equivalent to fellating Trump?

                    As for “largely derided”, I bet her ratings, if there were any, would be better than Obama’s.

              2. Some of us defend DeVos because she has the right ideas.

                To some people ideas matter, ya know? As opposed to having the right degree from the right university. Plenty of morons or worse, tyrants were very well-educated. Being right is more important than having certain robes (and don’t accuse me of being an anti-intellectual yokel; I’m better educated (formally) than you are)

        2. But just to get it straight, your point is that it’s OK that Betsy DeVos is an unqualified incompetent if Obama was too?

          1. My point is the one you dance around, that the qualifications you want in DeVos or any Republican are the very ones Obama didn’t have. And still doesn’t. It took him 7 years to figure out that pardon business, and he’s supposed to be a Constitutional scholar.

            1. I was not a supporter of Obama in the primary in part for this reason. He proved me wrong. Sometimes it happens. Still waiting on the Trump administration. Believe me, I wish they would.

              1. Do you have any evidence whatsoever that “qualification” whatever that means to you, is a predictor of a good president? Or is it just a go to bullshit complaint for when you don’t have a substantive grievance?

                What has DeVos done this far that you abhor so much?

      2. There is no proper qualification for that post. Arne Duncan was CEO of Chicago Public Schools. Have you seen Chicago’s public schools? There’s like 10 principals arrested for corruption every year.

        1. Why do I have to constantly read pathetic, obsequious apologies for Republicans at this libertarian site, almost to the exclusion of all else? It’s fucking embarrassing for you and exhausting for me.

          1. People are defending her not because she’s “Republican”, but because she favors privatization. You would too if you had any understanding of economics or property rights.

            1. You mean she is for spending my money on private contract schools, much like her brother wants to spend my money on mercenaries. How is that better than the public options? Less accountability and more expensive?

              1. It’s not perfect, but less expensive and higher quality due to competitive forces.

              2. Are you under the impression that public schools don’t spend any one else’s money? Do they get it from converted unicorn farts?

              3. Less expensive and better outcome (and more accountable; it’s easier to shut down a bad charter school than a bad public school). You clearly don’t know what you’re talking about regarding education, Tony. Give it up.

          2. Why do I have to read your equivocating because you don’t have an actual point?

            And why wouldn’t libertarians like DeVos? She’s done quite well when it comes to libertarian issues. Or do you expect libertarians to share your kneejerk hatred of republicans?

      3. Please list the qualifications necessary for the position.

        1. “EPA: Likely an African American (and/or at Education)”

          ~ HRC Cabinet List

    1. “Six Degrees of Republican Sin”

    2. at least he’s sort of indirectly comparing government to a Ponzi scheme, it’s a start

  5. So when the media covers O’Donnell’s little rant they mix in all the famous rants like O’Reilly, Mel Gibson, etc.

    When the media covers a fake misuse of government funds story about DeVos, they do not cover real misuse of government funds stories by Hillary as First Lady or Governor Moonbeam traveling to China and Paris?

  6. Education Department Press Secretary Liz Hill told the Associated Press on Thursday that DeVos travels completely on her own dime, accepting no government reimbursement for flights or other expenses.


  7. DeVos travels completely on her own dime, accepting no government reimbursement for flights or other expenses.

    Like that makes it better. How could anyone possibly say she has good intentions if she’s not fleecing taxpayers?

  8. This is just like the Marco Rubio and his Wife Have Traffic Tickets story in the NYT.
    Headline suggests something done wrong. Turns out Marco himself has like 2 tickets in 5 years and his wife has like 6. They paid the fines, took the stupid state classes to bring down their points, and hired one of those cheesy billboard traffic lawyers.

    The press dishonesty is astonishing. They’ve learned nothing from the rise of Trump, which is entirely their fault. They’ve only doubled down or gotten worse.

    1. I’m not going to say it reflects on their decency as people, but 6 in 5 years seems like a lot to me.

      1. Pshaw, that’s nothing. As a young college student I got that many in three years and almost lost my license.

        The only thing that saved me from getting even more was Congress finally deep-sixing that ridiculous 55 mph speed limit.

        1. well parking tickets are different that moving violations. I used to get 1 ticket every calender year for 15 years and then stopped and haven’t had one in 30 years.

      2. I don’t know about Manhattan but my daughters live in San Francisco and they basically budget in a ticket a month or so. The street cleaning thing gets them. 1 a year doesn’t seem that outrageous in a big city.

      3. Seems a lot to me

        But then I’ve only been stopped 3 times (1 citation) in 20 years of driving.

        The way legal interstate speeds in particular have sensibly been increased over the last 20 years or so, it really doesn’t make much sense to bend the rules by more than 5mph.

  9. Another example where Clinton took a government just to travel 20 miles. Crickets form the left when that happened

    1. Big cities are so fucking lame.

  10. RE: Fake Scandal: ‘DeVos Uses Private Jet for Work-Related Travel’
    Real scandal: Tom Price charters five flights in a week and Steven Mnuchin wants a military plane for his honeymoon

    1. Price should charter five flights a week. Isn’t that what the taxpayer’s money is there for?
    2. Steven Mnuchin should have a military plane for his honeymoon because, a. the military doesn’t have anything else to do, and, b. there are too many F-16s and their pilots just lying around doing nothing anyway.

    1. isn’t 2a and 2b the same thing?

    1. It’s not okay. She’s putting private sector carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That’s deadlier than taxpayer CO2.

      1. FTR I never bitch about anyone using private air travel, even on the taxpayer’s dime. It’s a symbolic thing for baby minds, and speaking of babies, traveling commercial sucks.

        1. I’m traveling with my almost one year old next month, I hope you’re sitting behind me so you guys can meet. I think you’ll find you have a lot in common!

          1. Your baby might get tired of Tony’s whining pretty quick.

          2. Children should never be brought in public until they’ve learned manners. I hope yours is a savant.

            1. I guess it’ll still be a while before your mom lets you go out in public.

  11. During her time in office…DeVos has charged travel expenses to the government just once: $184 to the Department of Education for round-trip Amtrak ticket between D.C. and Philadelphia.

    The department’s official travel voucher system is that bad, huh? I mean, I’m not surprised. It probably still involves carbon paper and/or fax machines.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.