The Treasury secretary wants to block taxpayers from knowing the full cost of Donald Trump's golf outings.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is working to prevent Americans from knowing until after the next election just how much they are paying to protect Donald Trump and his adult children as they travel, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
The issue comes as Mnuchin negotiates with senators to move the Secret Service back under the Treasury Department, where the agency resided prior to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003.
Democratic senators are demanding the Secret Service disclose costs related to the president's travel within 120 days — or four months — after the bill becomes law, the Post reported. Mnuchin wants to delay the reporting until after the 2020 election.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump promised that he would "rarely leave the White House because there's so much work to be done." Since taking office, Trump has regularly spent long weekends at Trump-branded properties. During 2019, CNN reported Trump spent one of every five days at a golf club.
The cost to protect Trump and his family during their frequent trips away from Washington is adding up fast, according to an analysis by the Post. Taxpayers paid about $96 million on travel by President Obama and his family over the course of eight years. The Post estimates Trump may have cost the taxpayers more than that in his first year in office alone.
However, the Post notes that the exact figure is unavailable because the Secret Service has not reported required reports on the figures in all of 2016 and 2017. Further, the White House refused to share information about the costs of Trump's travel with the Government Accountability Office.
"Secretary Mnuchin came to me last year with a proposal to move the Secret Service to the Treasury Department," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said in a statement to the Post. "As part of that effort, I proposed that the cost of presidential travel be included for greater transparency, accountability and oversight associated with protection during travel of presidents and their families."
Mnuchin strongly objected, suggesting instead an annual report to Congress beginning in 2021, according to the Post.
The lack of transparency has irked government watchdog groups.
"Secretary Mnuchin's actions here are an attempt at stripping away transparency and accountability," Jenna Grande, press secretary for Citizens For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), said in an email.
"How efficiently and cost-effectively taxpayer dollars are being spent is a concern shared by all Americans."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.