President Bush's chief of staff, John Sununu, has used a government jet 148 times in the past 27 months, often combining vacation and political travel with government business, according to a magazine report published Saturday.
Sununu reimburses the government by his calculation of what he and his family would pay on commercial airlines, U.S. News & World Report said.But the magazine, in its April 20 edition, says that even if he paid the $398 coach fair for a round trip to Colorado, where he often skis, that amount pales beside the $2,780 per hour that it costs to fly the C-20 Gulfstream twin-engine jet he favors.
Sununu's deputy, Ed Rogers, said Saturday that Sununu's office was aware of the magazine story and would have no comment.
The report noted the chief of staff is entitled to use the government aircraft for work, but often has included personal stops on his travels.
The report quoted unidentified Sununu spokesmen as saying that he needs to travel on government aircraft to avoid terrorism and harassment and to keep in constant touch with Bush.
Sununu's use of a government jet 148 times on 63 trips compares with fewer than 10 such trips by former President Reagan's chiefs of staff, Donald Regan over a two-year period, and James A. Baker III over four years, U.S. News said.
The magazine said the Pentagon, which controls the government aircraft, provided a list of Sununu trips, among them 26 to New England. Those trips included his home state of New Hampshire, where he served as governor before joining the Bush administration.
Among other trips was a December 6-9, 1989, ski vacation in Colorado that began with a stop in Salt Lake City.
On Dec. 8, the magazine said, Sununu flew to Aspen, Colo., to address a convention of ski industry executives. Two days later, he left for the golf resort town of Pinehurst, N.C., for a conference of Republican governors.