Pete Buttigieg, the Transportation Secretary, seems to be having a rough time lately.
Former President Donald Trump coerced him into visiting a contaminated town in the middle of the country, he’s been criticized for his choice of footwear, and now, watchdog groups are unhappy with his office’s repeated refusal to disclose information about the cost of the 23 flights he and his team have taken on government-owned private jets since he took the Cabinet position.
According to Fox News Digital (FND), both the DOT and its FOIA office have declined to provide details about the cost of each flight, despite requests spanning several months.
This comes at a time when the inspector general is conducting an audit into Buttigieg’s use of the planes, which are managed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Buttigieg’s office is being criticized for delaying the disclosure of information, which Caitlin Sutherland, the executive director of Americans for Public Trust (APT), referred to as “unjustifiable.”
“It’s inexcusable that Secretary Buttigieg’s agency is hiding the detailed costs of these taxpayer-funded flights,” she told FND. “Federal law dictates a timely release of exactly these types of records to the public.”
“The American people are entitled to know the true cost of Buttigieg and his entourage of staffers flying private to destinations that have readily available commercial options,” Sutherland added.
In December, BizPac Review reported that APT had acquired Buttigieg’s schedule of public engagements, which matched flight records showing that he had flown to various states, including Florida, Ohio, and New Hampshire, as well as abroad on a private jet fleet managed by the Federal Aviation Administration. This was despite his advocacy for increased government action to reduce carbon emissions, as reported by Fox News.
Chamberlain, commenting on the issue, stated that agencies cannot justify hiding information to protect officials from embarrassment or exposure.
Given the potential misuse of taxpayer money, the Department of Transportation must reveal the exact amount of public funds spent on Buttigieg’s non-commercial flights to regain public trust in the government, he added.
While DOT spokesperson Kerry Arndt declined to comment, she referred to a Washington Post article that estimated the cost of the first 18 flights at about $42,000. According to FND, this amount is “significantly” lower than the $327,478 that the FAA received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for eight trips, comprising a total of 27 flights, to natural disaster sites in 2021 and 2022.