Politics & Government

Wife causes furor with Kentucky trip. Treasury secretary finds new way to pay for her travel

Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin and Louise Linton in January on Capitol Hill.
Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin and Louise Linton in January on Capitol Hill. AP file photo

After an Instagram blow up over his wife’s boasts about her Kentucky trip, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is reimbursing the government for transportation costs when she travels with him on official business, a department official said Tuesday.

Louise Linton, a Scotland-born actress who married Mnuchin in June, also apologized Tuesday, saying her response to a critic was “inappropriate and highly insensitive,” according to Associated Press.

Linton stirred up controversy on social media Monday when she responded condescendingly to a critic on Instagram, where Linton had posted a photo of herself exiting a U.S. government aircraft after a flight from Kentucky. She was holding what appeared to be a Hermes Birkin handbag, a brand and model that sells for more than $10,000, and her post included hash tags of the designer clothes, shoes and sunglasses she was wearing.

The secretary went to Louisville to promote the Trump administration's tax reform agenda, including rate cuts for the middle class, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (During the trip, Mnuchin, McConnell, GOP Gov. Matt Bevin and U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, also a Republican, also got a look inside the previously off-limits gold reserve at Fort Knox.)

On social media, Linton, responding to an Oregon woman who criticized her "little getaway," wrote "I'm pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day trip than you did." The actress also said she's "pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you'd be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours," adding "you're adorably out of touch."

Linton has since made her Instagram account private.

Previous story by Damian Paletta of the Washington Post:

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's wife Louise Linton boasted of flying on a government plane with her husband to Kentucky on Monday and then named the numerous fashion brands she wore on the trip in an unusual social media post that only became more bizarre minutes later.

When someone posted a comment on Linton's Instagram picture that criticized the way Linton touted the trip, the treasury secretary's wife swung back hard, mentioning the extreme wealth she and her husband control.

"Did you think this was a personal trip?!" Linton wrote on her Instagram page, responding to the person who had written "glad we could pay for your little getaway."

(Linton's Instagram account was later made "private" so that it could not be publicly seen).

Linton continued in her response to the critic: "Adorable! 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 taxes 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."

Linton added, "You're adorably out of touch. . .Thanks for the passive aggressive nasty comment. Your kids look very cute. Your life looks cute."

The fashion companies Linton "tagged" in her Instagram post were Hermes, Roland Mouret, Tom Ford and Valentino.

Mnuchin and Linton have been married for two months. Mnuchin is a Hollywood producer and former banker.

The bizarre exchange came the day Mnuchin flew to Louisville to try and make the case for Congress to overhaul the tax code. He particularly stressed how the tax changes would help middle class Americans, though Democrats have alleged the Trump administration wants to pass large tax cuts that benefit the wealthy and multinational corporations.

Typically, U.S. Treasury secretaries only fly government planes when they go on international trips. They usually fly on domestic carriers when they are traveling inside the country.

Mnuchin and Linton recently returned from their honeymoon, though they have not revealed where they went. Linton is a Scottish actress and has raised eyebrows within the White House for accompanying Mnuchin to congressional hearings and on other trips that spouses don't often travel to.

A Treasury Department spokesman said Monday's flight was cleared by appropriate government channels, and that the Mnuchins covered the cost of Linton's travel. The spokesman added that Linton did not receive any financial compensation for mentioning the specific fashion brands that she tagged in her Instagram post.