The Department of Transportation’s inspector general is launching an audit into Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s frequent use of private jets. Flight records reviewed were found to align with Buttigieg’s internal calendar, which was obtained by the watchdog group Americans for Public Trust (APT) at the time.
APT (Americans for Public Trust) executive director Caitlin Sutherland said, “After [APT] 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.”
“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.”
This investigation follows a report by Fox News Digital two months ago, which revealed that Buttigieg, despite advocating for efforts to combat climate change, had utilized at least 18 taxpayer-funded private flights since assuming office in early 2021.
Secretary Pete Buttigieg tweeted, “Glad this will be reviewed independently so misleading narratives can be put to rest. 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.”
As public figures who advocate for climate action and reducing emissions, it can be viewed as hypocritical for politicians to frequently utilize private jets. This can be seen as an unfair practice, as it contradicts the principles that they promote and undermines their credibility on the issue.
In one instance of his use of government-managed private jets, which are part of a small fleet managed by the Federal Aviation Administration, Buttigieg traveled roundtrip from Washington, D.C., to Las Vegas to promote public works projects in Nevada in August 2021.
In another example, Buttigieg used a private jet to fly to multiple states — most of which have largely been considered swing states in recent federal elections — in August as a part of a tour highlighting grants authorized under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. He jetted to Florida, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Ohio, Nevada and New Hampshire during the trip titled “Building a Better America Tour.”
The transportation secretary also took a military aircraft to attend the Fifth Invictus Games in Europe with his husband Chasten Buttigieg in April 2022. And, that same month, Buttigieg jetted off to New York City on one of the government planes for a radio interview and two brief meetings before returning hours later.
An anonymous DOT (Department of Transportation) spokesperson claimed, “We welcome this independent audit moving forward in order to put some of the false, outlandish, and cynical claims about the Secretary’s mode of travel to rest. The fact remains that he flies commercially the vast majority 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.”
Glad this will be reviewed independently so misleading narratives can be put to rest.
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. https://t.co/wUtBtjx9CT
— Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) February 27, 2023
In 2021, former Secretary of State and climate envoy John Kerry also faced criticism for reportedly taking a private jet to Iceland to accept an environmental award. The incident was viewed as hypocritical, as Kerry had been advocating for climate action and reducing emissions.