Betsy DeVos finds an ingenious way to avoid a private jet controversy

"Blue-collar billionaire" Donald Trump's education secretary flies across the country in her own personal jet

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published September 21, 2017 2:41PM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Don't worry, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos isn't using taxpayer dollars to shuttle her around the country. Unlike Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, she's the one paying to fly around in a private jet.

After the Associated Press reported that DeVos was using private jets when visiting schools, her press secretary, Liz Hill, sent a statement to the wire service explaining that "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 added, "Secretary DeVos accepted her position to serve the public and is fully committed to being a faithful steward of taxpayer dollars."

There is indeed no evidence to refute Hill's assertion that DeVos funds her travel expenses. At the same time, in light of a pair of scandals involving perceived misuse of taxpayer money by Trump's cabinet secretaries when it comes to their use of airplanes, the revelation about DeVos could not be more ill-timed.

On Wednesday it was reported that Price used private jets on at least five occasions between Sept. 13 and Sept. 15 at taxpayer expense. One of the trips that he took, from Washington to Philadelphia, cost taxpayers roughly $25,000. Perhaps even worse, Price did this after criticizing the use of private jets by members of Congress as "another example of fiscal irresponsibility run amok."

Mnuchin requested the use of a government plane for his European honeymoon with his new wife, D-movie actress Louise Linton. Mnuchin has also been targeted by an ethics watchdog for an airplane trip to Kentucky that he took with Linton which seemed to align with the solar eclipse, raising questions about whether he chose that fight path so they could have a better view of the solar event.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012, was a guest on Fox Business in 2019, repeatedly warned of Trump's impending refusal to concede during the 2020 election, spoke at the Commonwealth Club of California in 2021, was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022 and appeared on NPR in 2023. His diverse interests are reflected in his interviews including: President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (1997-2001), director Jason Reitman ("The Front Runner"), inventor Ernő Rubik, comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, voice actor Rob Paulsen ("Animaniacs"), mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, World War II historian Joshua Levine (consultant to "Dunkirk"), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (2013-present), dog cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), comedian and writer Larry Charles ("Seinfeld"), seismologist John Vidale, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), Senator Martin Heinrich (2013-present), Egyptologist Richard Parkinson, Rep. Eric Swalwell (2013-present), Fox News host Tucker Carlson, actor R. J. Mitte ("Breaking Bad"), theoretical physicist Avi Loeb, biologist and genomics entrepreneur William Haseltine, comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2"), linguistics consultant Paul Frommer ("Avatar"), Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (2007-2015), computer engineer and Internet co-inventor Leonard Kleinrock and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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Betsy Devos Donald Trump Steve Mnuchin Tom Price