- Copies of all records concerning authorization for and the costs of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s use of non-commercial aircraft for any official travel since his confirmation on March 2, 2017. This includes all such authorizations Secretary Carson or anyone acting on behalf of Secretary Carson sought, whether or not such authorization was granted.
- CREW seeks records sufficient to show the amount of money budgeted for Secretary Carson’s travel, whether on a yearly or fiscal year basis, for 2017 and 2018, and the amount budgeted for the Secretary’s travel for 2016.
Recent news reports have focused on the use by agency heads of non-commercial aircraft for official government travel. For example, it was recently reported that HHS Secretary Tom Price traveled by private jet on five separate flights during a one-week period, all at a cost of thousands of dollars in excess of what commercial flights would have cost. See, e.g. Dan Diamond and Rachana Pradhan, Price’s Private-Jet Travel Breaks Precedent, Politico, Sept. 19, 2017. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has been criticised for his use of a private plane to travel to Lexington, Kentucky, during which he took in the solar eclipse at Fort Knox with his wife, and his earlier request to travel by government plane in the solar eclipse at Fort Knox with his wife, and his earlier request to travel by government plane for his honeymoon. See, e.g., Charles Ventura, Steven Mnuchin Requested an Air Force Jet for his European Honeymoon, Report Says, USA Today, Sept. 13, 2017. And Secretary Carson has a very visible role in introducing President Trump at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, raising questions about whether his trip was government-funded. See e.g., Philip Bump. Why Ben Caron’s Appearance in Phoenix Was Likely a Violation of Federal Law, Washington Post. The requested records will shed light on whether and to what extent Secretary Carson also has broken with prior practice and used non-commercial aircraft for government travel.
On September 21,2017, HUD denied CREW’s fee waiver request and CREW appealed HUD’s decision. On October 24, 2017, the Office of General Counsel at the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development rejected CREW’s administrative appeal for a fee waiver.