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EXCLUSIVE: House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik and other top ranking member-level Republicans are seeking accountability from FBI Director Chris Wray over his use of a taxpayer-funded government plane to transport him to his vacation home in New York.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., House Committee on Oversight and Reform ranking member James Comer, R-Ky., and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence ranking member Mike Turner, R-Ohio, sent the letter to Wray Monday.

“We write to conduct oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) use of Government aircraft and compliance with the applicable Federal regulations and requirements,” states the letter, first obtained by Fox News Digital. “We have questions about whether you are properly reimbursing federal taxpayers for your personal travel aboard government aircraft.”

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Wray last week, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, asked the FBI director to stay longer to answer additional questions. However, Wray departed the hearing and headed to his vacation home using the FBI’s Gulfstream 550 jet, which was originally intended for use for counterintelligence operations. 

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FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, August, 4, 2022.

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, August, 4, 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Grassley said during the hearing: “We just heard a half hour ago about you having to leave at 1:30… Is there any reason we couldn’t accommodate them for 21 minutes?” 

Wray responded to Grassley saying, “Senator, I had a flight that I’m supposed to be high-tailing it to outta here, and I had understood that we were going to be done at 1:30, so that’s how we ended up where we are.”

The senator responded, asking if Wray could stay the additional time and noting the director has a private plane. Despite the ask, Wray departed from the hearing.

“You reportedly departed on the FBI’s Gulfstream 550 jet, an agency aircraft initially intended for counterterrorism use, to make the one hour and 12-minute journey to Saranac Lake. Further, it has been reported that you made a similar personal trip on a government aircraft on June 2 and June 5, 2022,” the House Republicans continue in their letter.

“Although certain federal officials are permitted to use government aircraft for personal or political use, these expenses must be reimbursed. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), past FBI directors have used government aircraft for personal use as is permissible. These former officials reimbursed federal taxpayers at the commercial rate, which can be thousands of dollars less than the actual cost of operating the government aircraft. Reimbursement payments for personal travel are made to the FBI Finance Division, which in turn deposits the funds to the Department of the Treasury,” the letter states.

FBI Director Christopher Wray arrives to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, March 2, 2021.

FBI Director Christopher Wray arrives to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, March 2, 2021. (Mandel Ngan/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance states that a government plane is only authorized for “official purposes” and may only be authorized outside official travel when no commercial air is available or would cost more. 

The lawmakers are asking to receive documents related to Wray’s government aircraft travel and an accounting of the cost to taxpayers no later than Aug. 29.

According to the GAO, Wray would be required to make reimbursement payments for personal travel to the FBI’s Finance Division, and then transfer funds to the Treasury Department.

In a statement to Fox News Digital, the FBI said that Wray is following regulations, including reimbursement for personal travel.

“The FBI Director travels by government aircraft due to the FBI’s national security mission, which necessitates specific communications capabilities and security considerations. Director Wray has adhered to the federal regulations governing the use of the aircraft to include reimbursement for personal use. The Bureau’s national security and law enforcement operations, including transporting investigators and critical evidence, has been and remains the first priority for all FBI aircraft,” said an FBI spokesperson.

Rep. Elise Stefanik was among the House members who sent the letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray Monday.

Rep. Elise Stefanik was among the House members who sent the letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray Monday. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Travel on a government plane must be documented and kept for two years, including the flight manifest and route flown.

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Kelly Laco is a politics editor for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @kelly_laco.

Source Link:
https://www.foxnews.com/politics/top-republicans-question-fbi-director-wray-over-use-taxpayer-funded-gov-plane-fly-vacation-home

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