Transportation Department Stonewalling Info on Pete Buttigieg Trips – Transportation Department officials are stonewalling the delivery of documents needed for discovery in a group’s lawsuit challenging Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s alleged wasting of taxpayer money.
The secretary used planes owned by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct official visits when the watchdog group, Americans for Public Trust (APT), claims that he could have used a cheaper commercial alternative.
The Washington Post reported that Transportation Department numbers pegged costs for the flights at flight costs $41,905.20. The secretary’s office told the Washington Post that using FAA aircraft was cheaper than the cost of commercial travel on all but one trip.
As of last December, Pete Buttigieg had flown on government-owned planes 18 times.
Pete Buttigieg’s Frivolous Use of Government Planes
He flew on Cessna 560XL planes managed by the FAA to Nevada, Florida, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Ohio, and New Hampshire, some of which are battleground states.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, raised the issue of Buttigieg’s use of government planes in a January letter.
He noted that Buttigieg appeared to have used government planes for seemingly political affairs, such as meeting with the president of the ACLU in New York.
Buttigieg spokeswoman Kerry Arndt told Fox News Digital earlier this year that he uses commercial aircraft most of the time.
“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,” Arndt said.
Buttigieg has embraced Joe Biden’s “whole-of-government approach” to climate change but has not published any research into the impact of private jets.
“It’s sadly ironic that the FAA is wasting taxpayer dollars by stonewalling our lawsuit for records about Pete Buttigieg wasting taxpayer dollars,” Caitlin Sutherland, APT’s executive director, told Fox News Digital. “Despite repeated promises they would hand over records, and then missing those deadlines over and over, we now have proof that the FAA did not meaningfully work on our request until after we filed a lawsuit.”
APT first flagged its concern about Buttigieg’s travel last November and came out with subsequent requests in January.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) began an audit of Buttigieg’s travel expenditures last December.
Those requests included the names of members of Congress, the White House, or Biden administration officials who flew on FAA-owned planes and a list of its jets.
Requested FOIA Documents Stymied
The Transportation Department refused to produce the requested documents despite multiple FOIA requests.
“The misuse of government resources for trips that blend personal and official travel is a serious violation of the public trust,” Jason Torchinsky, who is representing APT, said in the filing.
The FAA has found 32 records that comply with APT’s request; however, it has said that it will not do so until after Halloween.
“After waiting for the better part of a year, we’ve now been told the FAA needs nearly 3 more months to review and produce just 32 pages documenting Pete Buttigieg’s private jet travel,” Sutherland said. “This raises serious concerns about the political meddling this administration is willing to engage in to hide the truth from the public.”
The New York Post notes that former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price had to resign in 2017 after running up a $1.2 million tab for 26 private jet flights.
John Rossomando is a defense and counterterrorism analyst and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, The National Interest, National Review Online, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com, and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia, and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award for his reporting.