They are blowing our money and don’t care at all!
The audit released on Wednesday indicates that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his team incurred expenses of nearly $59,000 while attending official events between August 2021 and June 2023, utilizing government-managed executive aircraft. The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted a thorough investigation spanning several months, revealing that Buttigieg chose to utilize government aircraft for eight trips and over 20 flights.
While the DOT has consistently justified Buttigieg’s use of executive jets as a cost-saving measure, the audit brought to light that only three out of the eight trips were truly justified by “cost effectiveness.” The remaining trips were purportedly justified on grounds of security, scheduling, and communications considerations. The OIG report emphasized the importance of ensuring that federal officials adhere to regulations governing the proper use of public resources to maintain public trust and confidence.
During the period under review, Buttigieg’s flights amounted to an estimated cost of $58,882 to taxpayers. The transportation secretary employed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-managed jets to travel across the country, particularly to local events where he announced federal funding and grants for local infrastructure projects.
For example, in August 2022, Buttigieg and his team traveled to several states during the “Building a Better America Tour,” costing taxpayers around $14,940. Justification for this trip was based on “exceptional scheduling” needs. Another instance cited was a $1,822 expenditure for a trip to New York City in April 2022, justified by scheduling considerations.
More recently, Buttigieg used the executive fleet to travel to Mexico for a meeting with the nation’s president, incurring a cost of $14,029, justified by “exceptional scheduling; communications or security needs.”
While the DOT asserted that three trips justified by cost-effectiveness saved a total of $10,678, the OIG highlighted the lack of documentation supporting commercial flight costs or availability information, making it impossible to verify these cost savings.
A spokesperson for the DOT emphasized that the secretary predominantly travels by commercial airline, with exceptions made based on recommendations from career ethics officials for cost-effectiveness or exceptional scheduling and security reasons.
The OIG report disclosed that Buttigieg chose commercial aircraft for 82.6% of his total trips, contrasting with his predecessor, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who opted for commercial flights in 90% of her trips. The audit also noted that Chao’s trip to France in 2017 cost taxpayers $69,952.
In addition to scrutinizing Buttigieg’s travel costs, the DOT OIG found that both Buttigieg and Chao’s travels on the FAA fleet complied with federal regulations, policies, and procedures. However, it flagged incorrect cost estimates for the FAA jet travel, though it did not impact cost-effectiveness negatively.
Caitlin Sutherland, Executive Director of Americans for Public Trust (APT), criticized the report, claiming that it revealed the Department of Transportation’s use of incorrect flight cost estimates to justify Buttigieg’s use of taxpayer-funded private jets. She accused the Biden administration of attempting to exonerate the secretary and suggested that the public might question why they are paying for their own commercial flights while Buttigieg uses private jets.
The OIG audit was initiated in response to revelations about Buttigieg’s use of executive jets, initially reported by Fox News Digital in December 2022. Following this report, Sen. Marco Rubio requested the OIG investigation, questioning the necessity of such costly travel when more economical options were reportedly available.