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Ethics watchdog asks for records of Mnuchin and wife's travel to Kentucky

A government ethics watchdog group is launching their own investigation into Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his wife Louise Linton's travel to Kentucky after a photo posted by Linton, spotlighting her lavish designer clothing as she stepped off a government plane, went viral. 

CREW, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, has requested copies of "all records concerning authorization for and the costs of" Mnuchin and Linton's use of a government plane to travel to Lexington, Kentucky on August 21, as well as all records pertaining to Mnuchin's use of a government plane for any purpose since his appointment to the Trump administration. 

Mnuchin traveled to Lexington with his wife to deliver remarks alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and later traveled to Fort Knox to tour an Army post as well as view the total solar eclipse that happened to occur the very same day. 

It was Linton's sharing of pricey designer labels in an Instagram post and her subsequent rant against a commenter who criticized it that first raised eyebrows. 

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New York Times, via Twitter

In the photo, Linton referred to the excursion as a "great #daytrip" then proceeded to use hashtags to highlight her expensive outfit, including Roland Mouret pants, Tom Ford sunglasses, a Hermes scarf and Valentino heels. After commenters slammed Linton for seemingly bragging about using government travel as an ad for her designer wears, Linton fired back. 

"Aw!!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable!" Linton wrote. "Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I'm pretty sure we paid more taxed toward our day 'trip' than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you'd be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours. You're adorably out of touch. Thanks for the passive aggressive nasty comment" wrote Linton in response to one commenter. 

Linton has since made her social media accounts private and apologized for the rant, saying in a statement on Tuesday: "I apologize for my post on social media yesterday as well as my response. It was inappropriate and highly insensitive."

In a statement on the watchdog's website, CREW says, "the requested records would shed light on the justification for Secretary Mnuchin's use of a government plane, rather than a commercial flight, for a trip that seems to have been planned around the solar eclipse and to enable the Secretary to secure a viewpoint in the path of the eclipse's totality."

CREW added, "At a time of expected deep cuts to the federal budget, the taxpayers have a significant interest in learning the extent to which Secretary Mnuchin has used government planes for travel in lieu of commercial planes, and the justification for that use."

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital