As the Soviet Union maintained Dachas for the nomenklatura, so our Park Service keeps a nice little “cabin” in the Tetons for use by the political class, as revealed by some diligent muckraking by Time.
Vice President Joe Biden is among the administration officials who have enjoyed the comforts of the
… the Brinkerhoff Lodge [which] was built in 1947 by the family of Zachary Brinkerhoff, a prominent Wyoming oil company executive. It features a two-story living room, a full-length deck, Western-style chandeliers and interior walls lined with log or knotty pine paneling.
The Park Service now runs this austere little shack:
Located on the banks of Jackson Lake with views of the glacier-strewn peak of Mount Moran …
Government official who stay there – with their families – are required to be doing some sort of “official business.” Easily accomplished, of course, if you are Secretary of Education Arne Duncan who:
… stayed there for six nights with his wife and children in 2013. He attended a nearby roundtable with tribal leaders and an event at a local school, according to the Department of Education.
And education in America is now vastly the better for it. Still, Duncan was supposed to have paid those additional costs “incurred” by the presence of family. This is one of those rules that seems to be administered according to some sort of wink-wink protocol, understood only by those in the government. That is to say, not administered at all until a snoop from Time comes around asking. Now:
A spokesperson for the Department of Education says the park service “never conveyed” to Duncan that he would have to pay for the non-official portion of his family’s nearly week-long stay. “Secretary Duncan requested an invoice for his family’s stay and will reimburse the park fully for the time he was on personal leave,” the official said.
Among those who have found a way to commit “public service” amid the glories of the Tetons are:
Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson [who] stayed three nights in 2011 with her husband, and five other people, including a person listed as a friend. She received a tour of a new air quality monitoring station, according to a park official.
Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood [who] traveled there in 2012 for eight nights with his wife, his daughter-in-law, three grandchildren, two other adults and his son, Illinois State Sen. Darin LaHood. He attended the Department of Transportation grant award event, according to LaHood’s office.
Read the whole thing.