‘Inexcusable’: Buttigieg accused of ‘hiding’ details on 23 taxpayer-funded jet trips amid IG probe

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg can’t catch a break.

Former President Donald Trump bullies him into going to a toxic farm town in the middle of flyover country, people think his shoes are silly, and now watchdog groups are getting snippy over his office’s repeated refusal to turn over information that would show how much money taxpayers have had to fork over for the 23 flights he and his advisers have taken on the government’s private jets since he took the Cabinet gig.

Reports Fox News Digital (FND):

The DOT [Department of Transportation] and the agency’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) office both declined to detail how much each flight cost taxpayers over the course of multiple months and in recent weeks. The stonewalling comes amid an ongoing inspector general audit of Buttigieg’s use of the planes, which are part of a small fleet managed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).


Caitlin Sutherland, the executive director of the watchdog group Americans for Public Trust (APT), called the feet-dragging by Buttigieg’s office “inexcusable.”

“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.

As BizPac Review reported in December, APT obtained Buttigieg’s schedule of external and public engagements, and Fox News found they aligned with flight records that saw the man who claimed to be “an advocate of increased government action to curb carbon emissions” jet off to “Florida, Ohio and New Hampshire, among other states” and travel “outside the country via a private jet fleet managed by the Federal Aviation Administration.”

The Fox News report prompted Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to request a probe from DOT’s inspector general, and on Feb. 27, the IG announced it would investigate.

FND followed up on the Dec. report by filing a FOIA request “for detailed information and costs of all flights logged by FAA planes since early 2021.”

“For months, the DOT FOIA office repeatedly delayed providing the requested information, citing various reasons including on one occasion a key employee being out of the office, until Feb. 27, hours after the inspector general investigation was announced,” the outlet reports. “The information showed that in addition to Buttigieg’s 18 flights, his advisers and communications team logged another three flights. However, the FOIA office opted to leave costs associated with all the flights carrying Buttigieg and his advisers blank and ignored multiple attempts for clarification.”

Michael Chamberlain, the director of Protect the Public’s Trust, another watchdog group, told FND that “secrecy” is “all too common” when it comes to Buttigieg.

“Sadly, reports of unnecessary secrecy and selective release of information are all too common when discussing the self-proclaimed most transparent administration in history,” he said. “And it appears that the more high-profile the issue or event, the greater the efforts to hide the information the public deserves to know.”

“Contrary to what some agencies appear to believe, saving powerful officials from disclosure or embarrassment is not a legitimate reason to keep the public in the dark,” Chamberlain stated. “Considering the potential abuse of taxpayer funds at issue, a necessary first step toward restoring the public’s trust in its government is for the Department of Transportation to come clean as to exactly how many taxpayer dollars were used to fly Secretary Buttigieg around on non-commercial flights.”

While DOT spokesperson Kerry Arndt declined to comment, she did point to a Washington Post report that put the total cost of the initial 18 flights at roughly $42,000.

That’s “significantly” less than the $327,478 the FAA got from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) “for eight trips, and a total of 27 flights, to the sites of natural disasters in 2021 and 2022,” FND notes.

“In one instance, the FAA charged FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and other officials $51,139 for a roundtrip flight in June from Washington, D.C., to Montana where catastrophic flooding had occurred,” the outlet reveals. “In September, the FAA charged FEMA $69,028 for flights to and from Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona.”

But the FAA has a perfectly reasonable explanation.

“Because FAA already budgets for the operation, maintenance, and leasing of the fleet for core missions,” the agency told FND in a statement, “DOT officials’ use of an FAA plane incurs marginal operating costs.”


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