WASHINGTON – A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report shows that two FBI Gulfstream V jets that were justified to Congress by the FBI as critical to counterterrorism operations are mainly being used for “non-mission” flights.
The report, which Grassley requested, says the Justice Department has spent $11.4 million of taxpayer money to fly around the Attorney General and the FBI Director unrelated to the mission of their agencies.
“These luxury jets were supposedly needed for counterterrorism, but it turns out that they were used almost two-thirds of the time for jet-setting executive travel instead,” Grassley said. “Nobody disputes that the Attorney General and the FBI Director should have access to the secure communications, but, for instance, there’s no reason they can’t take a less expensive mode of transportation, or cut their personal travel.”
“The taxpayers expect some discretion on this type of thing. I’m really interested in how the Attorney General can claim that federal law enforcement agents will be cut, knowing that over the last 5 years the Department has allowed for millions of dollars to be spent on personal travel. It’s ludicrous,” Grassley added. “The hypocrisy from the administration when they say that ‘the cuts apply to you, but not to me’ is hard to believe.”
In addition, the GAO report states that the FBI has unilaterally determined that since it is an intelligence gathering agency, it does not have to report its travel to the General Services Administration as required by the federal travel regulation.
“By definition, personal and non-mission travel cannot be a sensitive intelligence secret. This information should be published regularly and openly for the public to see. The Justice Department needs to be held accountable, and transparency brings accountability, and may just save the taxpayers some money,” Grassley said.
The GAO report also says that that the department flies the jets from an undisclosed location in the Washington area to Reagan National Airport to pick up the Attorney General and the FBI Director for their travel. Over the last five years, this alone has cost the taxpayers $1.5 million.
“It seems to me that there has to be a better way than flying a jet a few miles to pick up the Attorney General and the FBI Director,” Grassley said.
The GAO report can be found here.