President Obama replaced the globetrotting chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission this week after years of criticism over frequent trips she charged to U.S. taxpayers.
The PRC confirmed on Friday that Obama tapped commissioner Robert Taub to take the place of Ruth Goldway as head of the panel, serving on an interim basis until the Senate confirms a permanent replacement. The Washington Free Beacon first reported the change on Friday.
Goldway racked up nearly $71,000 in official travel expenses during her first three years as chairman, outpacing her predecessor, according to a 2012 Washington Post review. Her trips included visits to Portugal, Switzerland and China to meet with international postal regulators, as well as a trek to Scotland two years ago, where she talked with European envelope manufacturers just days before the Postal Service announced record-setting losses.
The former chairman spent another $36,000 on travel to Rio de Janeiro, Stockholm and other popular foreign destinations between 2012 and 2013, according to a Free Beacon report last month.
Additionally, the PRC’s Office of the Inspector General issued a report in June saying Goldway used a personal credit card to pay for over $18,000 in travel expenses, which the commission later reimbursed. Such uses of personal credit cards for official travel is prohibited, since it could be used to accrue credit card rewards for the cardholder.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who has been one of Goldway’s most vocal critics in Congress, had questioned her travel habits. “While personal days are paid for with her private funds, documentation detailing Goldway’s trips raise questions about the business importance of the trips,” he said in his 2013 Wastebook, an annual list of federal expenditures that the Republican considers to be questionable.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has suggested that Goldway should have been more mindful of her travel amid the Postal Service’s recent financial troubles. “When organizations are struggling, good leaders often make a pointed effort of curbing their own expenses as an example,” he said in 2012.
Goldway has been with the commission since 1998, serving as its chairman since 2009. She remained as head of the panel after her most recent term expired at the end of last month.
Coburn and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), who have worked together on postal legislation, urged President Obama in July to name a new chair before Goldway’s term ended. They said the move would “remove uncertainty” and allow the panel to “continue its work on postal reform with a better sense of who will be implementing it in the coming years.”
PRC spokeswoman Gail Adams on Friday said Goldway plans to remain with the commission until her replacement has been confirmed.