Sununu asks counsel to review travel records

May 03, 1991|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- Bowing at least slightly to public pressure over his extensive travel on military airplanes, White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu has asked White House Counsel C. Boyden Gray to review all his travel records to determine whether his accounting of them was "accurate and appropriate," officials disclosed yesterday.

Until now, the White House had insisted that Mr. Gray would review future travel policy but would not delve into questions surrounding Mr. Sununu's past travels. But, "in the last day or two the governor has asked Boyden Gray also to take a look at his own records," White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said.

Last week, the White House released a list of trips Mr. Sununu had taken on military aircraft. Since then, the former New Hampshire governor and other White House officials have refused to answer further questions about his travel.

It remains unclear, for example, who actually reimbursed the government for trips Mr. Sununu deemed to be "personal" or "political." Federal ethics rules strictly limit such reimbursements. If Mr. Sununu's travel costs were reimbursed by the wrong parties, he could have violated ethics rules.

Under current White House rules, Mr. Sununu is allowed to use a military plane whenever he chooses but is required to reimburse the government when a trip is political or personal. The reimbursement, which is set at the cost of a commercial coach ticket, covers only a part of the actual expense.

Meanwhile, Mr. Fitzwater reacted sharply to stories about Vice President Dan Quayle's use of a military plane to take a golfing vacation in Georgia last weekend.

"The vice president of the United States flies on military aircraft wherever he goes. That is right and proper and in accordance with all of the concerns for that office, and for the security of a vice president and his role in our constitutional process," Mr. Fitzwater said. "And that will not change.

"The American people do not ask their elected officials to give up their lives to take these positions," Mr. Fitzwater added. Top administration officials, he said, should not be expected "to live like hermits while they're in these offices."

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