The Washington Post

Personal FBI flights for Holder and other Justice officials went unreported

Attorney General Eric Holder. (EPA / Jim Lo Scalzo)

The agency that tracks federal travel did not report hundreds of personal and other “nonmission” trips aboard government planes for senior Justice Department officials including Attorney General Eric Holder and former FBI Director Robert Mueller, according to a watchdog report.

Congress’s nonpartisan Government Accountability Office determined that the 395 flights cost taxpayers $7.8 million. But the General Services Administration, which oversees trips aboard federal jets, did not require documentation because of a GSA reporting exemption that covers intelligence agencies, even in cases of unclassified personal travel.

The GSA exemption contradicts decades-old executive-branch requirements, specifically guidelines established by President Bill Clinton and the Office of Management and Budget, according to the report. The report said GSA “has not provided a basis for deviating from executive branch requirements.”

The findings, released Thursday, came out nearly 19 months after Republican lawmakers began questioning Holder’s use of an FBI jet for travel unrelated to Justice Department work. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked the GAO to look into the matter.

MORE: Eric Holder’s use of FBI plane questioned by GOP lawmakers

“Secrecy of personal or nonmission trips taken at taxpayer expense only serves to create a distrust of the federal government,” Grassley said in a statement on Thursday. “The GAO identified a significant gap that needs to be addressed to ensure transparency and verify that federal agencies are following current regulations.”

For security reasons, attorneys general are required to use non-commercial flights when they fly, and they have access to Defense Department jets. However, they must reimburse the government for personal trips.

According to the report, GSA has promised to eliminate the exemption that applies to nonmission, unclassified travel for intelligence officials. The agency also plans to begin documenting those trips in its periodic reports on travel by senior federal officials.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon noted that DOJ makes its travel information available to Congress and members of the public when they request the information under public-records laws.

“If GSA intends to also report this information regarding unclassified, non-mission travel, we would have no objection at all,” Fallon said.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks@washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics for more federal news. E-mail with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
From clubfoot to climbing: Double amputee lives life of adventure
Learn to make traditional soup dumplings
In defense of dads
Play Videos
How to make head cheese
Perks of private flying
The rise and fall of baseball cards
Play Videos
Husband finds love, loss in baseball
New hurdles for a Maryland tradition
How to survive a shark attack
Play Videos
Portland's most important meal of the day
What you need to know about Legionnaires' disease
How to save and spend money at college
Next Story
Josh Hicks · March 20, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.