Travelgate 2023 Edition: Pete Buttigieg and His Troubles Continue to Mount – Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s troubles continue to mount.
He’s faced criticism from lawmakers for his handling of last December’s travel debacle that left millions stranded following a winter storm, while he’s been in the spotlight for his response to the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
However, his latest woes will include a U.S. government watchdog audit for his use of government airplanes, which will also look into the former head of the Department of Transportation (DoT), Elaine Chao who served as Transportation secretary from 2017 through early 2021 under President Donald Trump.
Pete Buttigieg: Flying Private?
It was reported earlier this week that the DoT’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) will review a total of 18 flights Buttigieg – once seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party – made on Federal Aviation Administration-operated (FAA) planes on seven total trips after a request by Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.
A Fox News Digital Report had previously shown that Buttigieg had repeatedly argued in favor of aggressive action to combat climate change, even as he took flights on taxpayer-funded private jets since he took office in early 2021.
Flight records reviewed by Fox News Digital aligned with Buttigieg’s internal calendar obtained at the time by government watchdog group Americans for Public Trust (APT).
“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,” APT executive director Caitlin Sutherland told Fox News Digital on Monday.
Sutherland 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.”
Saving Taxpayer Money?
Pete Buttigieg has defended his choice of travel actions.
“Glad this will be reviewed independently so misleading narratives can be put to rest,” Buttigieg wrote on Twitter earlier this week.
“Bottom line: I mostly fly on commercial flights, in economy class. And when I do use our agency’s aircraft, it’s usually a situation where doing so saves taxpayer money.”
Senator Marco Rubio had requested the review of Buttigieg’s travel in December following a Fox News report, which questioned if there were any violations of DoT policy.
“American taxpayers deserve assurances that their tax dollars are not wasted by the government’s highest officials. I am committed to both holding Secretary Buttigieg accountable for any fraudulent use of government aircraft, and ensuring compliance with DOT policies and procedures. Therefore, I appreciate your prompt and thorough review of these issues,” Rubio wrote on December 16, 2022 letter to DoT Inspector General Eric Soskin.
As Reuters also reported, a 1992 White House memo allows senior government officials to travel on government aircraft but with restrictions.
That typically includes choosing whichever option costs taxpayers less money. Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was forced to resign after it had been reported that he had cost taxpayers more than $1 million using government jets.
Author Experience and Expertise:
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.