Betsy DeVos, a billionaire, Trump’s Secretary of Education, just showed the nation what “not profiting from your position” actually looks like. This doesn’t make up for saying schools need guns for bears and doesn’t make her a good person for the job she’s in, though. It just makes Trump and others in his administration look really bad.
Devos is the latest Trump official to be exposed for using other than commercial air travel, but with a twist, according to Politico. Not only does she pay for it herself, she doesn’t make the government pay for incidental costs, either:
“Secretary DeVos travels on personally-owned aircraft, accompanied by her security detail and whenever possible, additional support staff, at zero cost to U.S. taxpayers,” said spokeswoman Liz Hill in an email.
“The secretary neither seeks, nor accepts, any reimbursement for her flights, nor for any additional official travel-related expenses, such as lodging and per diem, even though she is entitled to such reimbursement under government travel regulations,” Hill said.
DeVos is also planning to donate her government salary to charity.
Trump’s fight to get top dollar from the Secret Service for rental space in Trump Tower, to coordinate his own protection, caused them to have to move to a location on the street below the tower. No discount for the taxpayers, not in Trump-land.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin – worth up to 700 million – requested a government airplane for his European honeymoon, and let us pick up the bill for his wife’s day trip along with him to a place that also happened to be in the line of the solar eclipse.
Trump charged his campaign for flights for the Secret Service on his own airline. Something he could have waived or absorbed, surely – he is a billionaire, right? He charged the government for $13,500 dollars in golf cart rentals at his Bedminster, N.J. resort for the Secret Service.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, after once saying [planes comment] chartered expensive flights on our dime to have a more convenient schedule.
An official was charged over $1,000 dollars to stay at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago: the regular price for a room. That was one official, for two nights, on one of seven trips Trump had taken at that point.
All of that may be legal to do, but it is not ethical.
All of this, and Betsy DeVos, it appears from the beginning, flew in her own plane and footed the bill, and not just for herself. And not even just for airfare, for the entire bill. She has never sought any of the reimbursements she is legally able to take. Her salary is to be donated to charity, too. She is doing it right, as any person who has so much more than other Americans would do. She is showing fiscal responsibility for the cost of her own luxury.
Trump is still directly benefitting from the profits of his businesses, and government money is filling his coffers. The fact that he has donated his salary will be offset many times by the money that his luxury has cost the US taxpayers.
There is zero indication that DeVos intended to make her boss or other members of the administration look bad. The simple fact is that she understood it would be unsavory to monetize her office, without being exposed or having to be forced to. Whether she is taking huge deductions on her taxes or not, at least she isn’t taking the money right out of our pocket. The others, including Trump, deciding that they are entitled to luxury on our dime looks just that much worse.
Featured image via Gage Skidmore, Wikipedia Commons, cropped