Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is now under investigation by his department’s inspector general for the embattled Democrat’s frequent use of private jets, according to reports confirmed Monday.
According to Fox News, the DOT Office of the Inspector General initiated an audit into the Secretary’s travel arrangements as a result of a report from the outlet that alleged Buttigieg had flown on 18 separate flights at the taxpayer’s expense since he took office in 2021.
The report triggered harsh criticism due to Buttigieg’s vocal condemnation of conservatives and aggressive climate change rhetoric as the DC Enquirer has previously reported. Fox News reportedly reviewed flight records that aligned with the secretary’s official calendar that was obtained by the government oversight organization Americans for Public Trust.
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APT executive director Caitlin Sutherland told Fox News,
“After Americans for Public Trust helped determine Secretary Buttigieg’s excessive use of taxpayer-funded government jets, we are pleased to see that his air travel is now under investigation.”
She added, “Everyday Americans have faced unprecedented flight cancelations and disruptions, but Buttigieg has continued to fly private, even on a Coast Guard plane and even when commercial options were readily available.”
Full segment of the @FoxNews panel discussing Private Jet Pete’s latest scandal: pic.twitter.com/4t9YyY1mGR
— Americans for Public Trust (@apublictrust) February 28, 2023
According to The Washington Post, the audit was requested by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) following the Fox News report.
“American taxpayers deserve assurances that their tax dollars are not wasted by the government’s highest officials,” Rubio wrote when requesting the audit. “I am committed to both holding Secretary Buttigieg accountable for any fraudulent use of government aircraft, and ensuring compliance with DOT policies and procedures.”
Kerry Arndt, Buttigieg’s spokeswoman told the outlet in a statement emailed to the Washington Post that his team welcomed the audit, and claimed it would be an opportunity to “put some of the false, outlandish, and cynical claims about the Secretary’s mode of travel to rest.”
“The fact remains that he flies commercially the vast majority of the time,” Arndt added.
“The exceptions have been when the Department’s career ethics officials, who have served under both Democratic and Republican administrations, determined that the use of a 9-seat FAA plane would be either more cost-effective or should be approved for exceptional scheduling or security reasons.”
The inspector general’s office stated in a memo that the review will “determine whether the Office of the Secretary complied with Federal regulations, policies, and procedures regarding executive travel on DOT aircraft.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) also requested an explanation of Buttigieg’s travel arrangements in January asking if all of the trips were justified.
He wrote, “Brief meetings with people you could have met with in Washington, or picked up a phone to talk to, create questions about whether you really required the use of a private jet, especially as you call on Americans to sacrifice to reduce carbon emissions.”
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