The New York Times recently reported that Secretary Steven Mnuchin took a flight on a private plane owned by his friend Michael Milken, who in 1989 pleaded guilty to six criminal charges for securities fraud, and paid $600 million in related fines. In January, Mnuchin flew with Milken from Washington to Los Angeles, apparently for personal reasons. CREW filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Treasury Department for communications about the trip, and the amount that he reimbursed for the trip.
According to a Treasury spokesperson, Mnuchin reimbursed Milken for the cost of the flight, and after internal review of the trip, “it was decided he did not need an ethics waiver.” Mnuchin has encouraged President Trump to pardon Milken. His advocacy on Milken’s behalf and then acceptance of a flight with him raises ethics questions, even if accepting a ride on Milken’s airplane was legal. Previous problems with Mnuchin’s flights only heighten public interest in the matter.
CREW requested all communications within the Treasury Department about the flight, including the decision about whether Mnuchin needed an ethics waiver, records of the reimbursement, and communications between Mnuchin and Milken since December 1, 2018.
The requested records would shed further light on the potential ethics issues with the trip, the amount of the reimbursement for the trip, and whether the reimbursement has actually taken place.