Investigation finds FBI jets used for personal travel, costing millions

Article Highlights

  • Expensive Gulfstream jet used for extensive personal travel
  • $11 million spent over 5 years on non FBI-related expenses
  • 88 personal trips taken by Holder and Mukasey, Mueller adds 10
  • Read the official GAO report

According to an investigation released by the Government Accountability Office, the FBI’s Gulfstream jet, leased by the government to provide travel for global counterterrorism efforts, has been repeatedly misused for personal business travel by Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller.

The jet costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars every time the wheels leave the ground.  The investigation found that between the years of 2007 and 2011, more than half of the jet’s logged hours were for non-mission related travel activities that cost taxpayers over $11 million.

A whopping 88 personal trips were taken by Holder and former Republican Attorney General Michael Mukasey.  Mueller added 10 personal trips to the count.

Traditionally, the government has required FBI officials to use government-operated jets to maintain security.  However, smaller and less expensive Citation jets are typically used.  Since 2007, Holder and Mueller opted instead for the much more luxurious, and far more expensive, Gulfstream for the majority of their personal travel.

The report added, “However, according to DOJ officials, while the AG has historically been required to use government aircraft for all types of travel, including personal travel, the FBI Director had, until 2011, the discretion to use commercial air service for his personal travel.”

Read the official GAO report.

Taxpayer money spent on monitoring LED signs

In an interesting story from the Washington Post, a church in Vienna, Virginia was issued a warning letter recently about their LED sign.  The problem?  Apparently the church changed the text of the sign more than two times in a 24-hour period.

According to Fairfax County law, LED signs cannot be changed more than two times a day; Vienna United Methodist Church’s sign was changed three times.  The horror.  A letter was sent from the county warning the church to either fix the problem or remove the sign altogether.  The two could not reach a compromise during a meeting in late July.  The church has filed a lawsuit against the county citing free speech and religious freedom.

Setting aside the rationale and history of the ordinance itself (a topic that county workers will not talk about during the suit), apparently taxpayers in Fairfax County are paying workers to monitor LED signs throughout the day.  After the third change of the LED sign, a city worker was on it!

I would imagine the county’s ordinance was designed to prevent a bunch of annoying and distracting LED lights around the county.  But seriously, the county needs to use some discretion with how taxpayer money is spent to enforce its laws.  Changing an LED sign three times instead of two in a 24-hour period hardly presents a distracting environment for drivers.  This should be the least of the county’s worries, and I would expect them to be more respectful of local taxpayers and how their hard-earned money is being spent.

Original story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/vienna-church-says-fairfax-county-sign-rules-violate-first-amendment/2012/08/29/7e06d5f0-f1ee-11e1-adc6-87dfa8eff430_story.html