Turner, GOP colleagues drill FBI’s Wray on personal travel using government aircraft

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) joined his Republican colleagues in pressing Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray about his use of federal government aircraft for personal travel.

Doing so without properly reimbursing the government is an illegal abuse of taxpayer funds, wrote Rep. Turner, ranking member of the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and his colleagues in an Aug. 15 letter sent to Wray.

“We write to conduct oversight of the FBI’s use of government aircraft and compliance with the applicable federal regulations and requirements,” the lawmakers wrote. “In light of a recent report by the New York Post that you left a Senate hearing early to fly on an FBI aircraft for a personal vacation, we have questions about whether you are properly reimbursing federal taxpayers for your personal travel aboard government aircraft.”  

U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee Ranking Member James Comer (R-KY) and U.S. House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) joined Rep. Turner in signing the letter, which cited a Post story that reported Wray on Aug. 4 departed a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing to engage in personal travel to his vacation home in Saranac Lake, N.Y.

“Despite requests from Ranking Member [Chuck] Grassley, you refused to remain at the hearing for an additional 21 minutes for remaining members to finish asking their questions and conduct oversight of the FBI,” they wrote. “Further, it has been reported that you made a similar personal trip on a government aircraft on June 2 and June 5, 2022.”

The Government Accountability Office says it has been permissible for past FBI directors to use government aircraft for personal use as long as they reimbursed federal taxpayers at the commercial rate, which can be thousands of dollars less than the actual cost of operating the government aircraft, Rep. Turner and the members wrote. Reimbursement payments for personal travel are made to the FBI Finance Division, which in turn deposits the funds with the U.S. Treasury Department, according to their letter.

Rep. Turner and his colleagues questioned Wray about whether he has taken such actions and requested related documents and information for the period Aug. 2, 2017, to the present to assist them in conducting oversight of the situation. The lawmakers asked Wray to provide the information to them by Aug. 29.