Watchdog To Probe Buttigieg’s Use Of Government Aircraft

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Mar 01, 2023 - 01:05 AM

Authored by Caden Pearson via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is facing an audit by its internal watchdog following reports about Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s use of government aircraft.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg listens to a question during a press conference following a tour of a Southside transportation hub in Chicago, Ill., on July 16, 2021. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) said in a memo on Monday that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), citing news reports, requested the audit to determine whether Buttigieg’s use of government aircraft “complied with all applicable federal regulations” and DOT policies and procedures.

According to the memo, the OIG will conduct its audit at DOT headquarters and other sites as needed, focusing on official trips taken since Jan. 31, 2017.

The watchdog said the audit also aims to minimize cost and improve the management and use of government aviation resources and that it will begin “shortly.”

Buttigieg, who has pushed for policies to end using the same fossil fuels used to power government jets, has faced criticism over his use of such aircraft, which, according to a 2021 report from the group Transport and Environment, are “10 times more carbon intensive than airliners on average, and 50 times more polluting than trains.”

The transportation secretary responded on Twitter, welcoming the review and emphasizing that his use of government aircraft was mostly for official purposes and to save taxpayer money.

“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,” Buttigieg wrote.

According to the memo, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) operates and maintains a fleet of aircraft on behalf of the DOT, which are used for various purposes, including transporting senior executives from both DOT and FAA.

The Office of Management and Budget’s guidance allows executive department heads to travel on government aircraft, but there are restrictions.

The guidance states that government aircraft can only be used for official travel or on a space-available basis, subject to certain policies and authorizations. According to the memo, this applies to all government-owned, leased, chartered, and rental aircraft and related services operated by executive agencies.

Rubio, Grassley Letters

On Dec. 16, 2022, Rubio called for the watchdog review after Fox News reported on Buttigieg’s use of taxpayer-funded private jets in the United States and internationally “at least 18 different times since taking office.”

The total cost of Buttigieg’s flights is unknown, but according to The Washington Post, the FAA charged federal agencies $5,000 per hour to use its aircraft.

“If these reports are confirmed, it would represent yet another troubling example of this administration’s continued willingness to skirt basic ethics rules,” Rubio wrote (pdf)

The Fox News report cited flight tracking data obtained by independent watchdog group Americans for Public Trust.

Read more here...