Top Republican criticizes use of FBI planes
February 28th, 2013
05:48 PM ET
9 years ago

Top Republican criticizes use of FBI planes

Washington (CNN) - A top congressional Republican complained Thursday that FBI jets are being used too much on travel for the FBI Director and Attorney General and not enough for FBI missions.

Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa expressed particular concern about the use of two Gulfstream V planes. "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.

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According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, the cost of flights for several attorneys general and FBI director Robert Mueller on Gulfstream and other FBI planes cost $11.4 million for fiscal years 2007 through 2011. Alberto Gonzales, Michael Mukasey and Eric Holder held the post of attorney general at varying times over those years.

The report said 56 percent of the attorney general travel was for business while 41 percent was for personal travel. Only two percent of the FBI director's trips involved personal trips.

The GAO study was requested by Grassley and Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin.

The GAO report did not make any recommendations or say that executive travel prevented the use of planes for actual FBI missions. It notes the attorney general and FBI director are required to use government aircraft for both business and personal travel because of "security and communications needs."

A statement issued by the FBI and Department of Justice said the GAO report made clear that the majority of travel "has been for official business travel in furtherance of the Department's national security and public safety mission."

"Counterterrorism, and weapons of mass destruction operations–whether transporting investigators or other forensic experts, critical evidence, or apprehended terrorists –are the first priority for all FBI aircraft," according to the statement.

When it comes to personal travel officials reimburse the government but rules call for them to pay full coach fare, a much lower rate than the actual cost of using FBI jets. As an example, the FBI said that in November 2010 Attorney General Holder used a Gulfstream jet for a personal trip to New York. The cost of operating the aircraft was estimated at $15,894. Holder paid the estimated commercial coach fare of $420.

Whether trips are for official business or private travel the use of FBI planes can be extra costly. The GAO notes some of the planes are kept at a secret location for operational purposes. When used for executive travel they have to be flown into Washington to pick up the attorney general or FBI director before beginning trips. Those extra legs have cost $1.5 million dollars from fiscal 2007 through 2011.

Members of Congress have asked for information on FBI aircraft use in the past. On November 20, 2012 the FBI sent information to Capitol Hill which said the reimbursement rate was consistent with that charged other cabinet members who are required to travel on government planes.

The FBI also provided figures on how much attorneys general have paid the government for personal trips over several years. In fiscal year 2008 Michael Mukasey–one of George W. Bush's attorneys general–paid the government $19,334. The next highest figure was for fiscal 2011 when Holder paid $11,064 for personal flights.

Filed under: Chuck Grassley • FBI
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. will never vote Republician again

    I'm so sick of their whining!

    February 28, 2013 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    This administration, has no fiscal responsibility whatsoever, so don't look for any changes.

    February 28, 2013 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  3. Ind.

    Holder the criminal.

    February 28, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  4. amf140

    The political ELITE can't seem to stop themselves. They make the rules to conttrol us – but the rules don't apply to them. Just remember when the auto executives flew on private jets to a Congressional hearing and how appalled the politicians were. And those guys were using money that their companies made fair and square – not taxpayer dollars. The hypocracy is just incredible.

    February 28, 2013 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  5. Name lynn

    The republicans cant even agree with the president on budget cuts, now they are talking about the FBI an their planes them republicans dont even have nerves less known brains,

    February 28, 2013 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  6. g

    what about cheney using the military to fill the pockets of haliburton

    February 28, 2013 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  7. cbr

    Sen. Grassley is way off base on this one. It is pretty clear that the FBI Director and Attorney General are required to travel on government planes for security reasons. It appears that they have paid for their private travel. So where is the problem. Certainly we are paying for Sen. Grassley and other members of the Senate and House to travel to their home states. They also get parking at the airport and other perqs. Until they stop receiving all the wonderful funding like the best healthcare, franking privileges, staff members to do their research, run their offices and do their bidding, while in office and huge retirement checks when they leave they need to find another issue. Sen. Grassley did just fine while in office.

    February 28, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  8. BlueAlliance

    The same drum beat......find fault with Obama's administration at all costs! Why doesn't this senator do the work the people elected him to do, instead of constantly stirring the pot! The GOP will not give up until they have destroyed Obama and the only reasonable explanation is that they will not adhere to a black president.

    February 28, 2013 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  9. Ancient Texan

    Planes and other toys are just the tip of the iceberg. When this administration is gone, then we'll find the true cost of their regime.

    February 28, 2013 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  10. bob

    boot them all out we need a system that does not give any one person power because it obvious politicians can not be trusted on any level this country will collapse in the next 8 years if we the people dont stand up and demand these politicians to all resign with no pay no pensions.

    February 28, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  11. bob

    also they must be held liable for their ineptness and be severely punished.

    February 28, 2013 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  12. Pete

    It's funny how these sanctumonious republicans go after Holder for jet trips when your republican congressmen like McCain and others went overseas at your and mine expense and came back in an empty jet not even picking up some soldiers geared to come home that same time,how unpatriotic,how unamerican but that's republicans the warmongers that run from wars but like advocating them don't they you hypocrites!!

    February 28, 2013 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  13. keeth

    Grassley is the new McCain. Angry old man.

    February 28, 2013 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  14. Larry L

    How many trips to Israel have Republican Congressmen made in the last few years? Why?

    February 28, 2013 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |