Pete Buttigieg Blew $59,000 in Taxpayer Money on Private Jets, Inspector General Reveals

The Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has revealed that Secretary Pete Buttigieg blew a whopping $59,000 in taxpayer money on private jets.

According to an inspector general audit report released Wednesday, Buttigieg and his staff have enjoyed traveling to official events on government-managed executive aircraft between August 2021 and June 2023.

The report comes as Americans continue to suffer the impact of Democrat President Joe Biden’s so-called “Bidenomics.”

As families across the country struggle to put gas in their cars or food on the table, their tax dollars have been paying for Buttigieg and his team to be jetted around in style.

The DOT OIG determined in its months-long investigation that Buttigieg opted to travel on the government fleet across eight trips and more than 20 flights

The DOT has repeatedly claimed that Buttigieg’s use of the jets saved taxpayers money.

However, the audit revealed that just three of the trips were justified by “cost-effectiveness.”

The others were claimed to be for reasons of security, scheduling, and communications concerns.

“Ensuring that Federal officials, including career personnel and political appointees, adhere to Federal requirements regarding the proper use of public resources is essential to maintaining public trust and confidence,” the DOT OIG report concludes.

“The Department has internal controls over the process to authorize and approve travel on official use of DOT aircraft, such as requiring legal review and approval of all aircraft use justifications and has implemented new ones, such as expanded voucher audit criteria, to help ensure process standardization,” it continues.

“Continued oversight in this area is important to maintain transparency and accountability for Federal funds.”

Overall, in the time period analyzed, Buttigieg’s flights cost taxpayers an estimated $58,882.

The transportation secretary used the jets, managed by the Federal Aviation Administration, to traverse the country.

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He often traveled to local events where he delivered remarks awarding federal funding and grants for local infrastructure projects.

For example, in August 2022, Buttigieg and his staff traveled on the luxury jets to Florida, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Ohio, Nevada, and New Hampshire.

On the taxpayers’ dime, Buttigieg visited the states on the so-called Building a Better America Tour.

During these trips, he unveiled grants earmarked under President Biden’s 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

However, most of these states are considered “swing states” during federal elections.

Buttigieg’s use of the FAA aircraft for that trip cost taxpayers an estimated $14,940.

It was justified by the DOT due to “exceptional scheduling” needs.

In another example of his use of the FAA’s jets, Buttigieg and his staff spent $1,822 in April 2022 to travel to New York City for a radio interview and two meetings before returning hours later.

Scheduling considerations were again used to justify the travel arrangements.

And Buttigieg most recently used the executive fleet to travel to Mexico for a meeting with the nation’s president.

That trip cost $14,029 and was justified by “exceptional scheduling; communications or security needs,” according to the OIG report.

The OIG noted that, based on DOT’s internal calculations, the three trips justified by cost-effectiveness saved a total of $10,678.

This sum was provided by Buttigieg’s DOT without any evidence to support the claimed savings.

However, the inspector general found that the agency is not required to “provide documentation to support commercial flight costs or availability information used in cost comparisons.”

The OIG notes that it is impossible to prove those cost savings.

The DOT responded to the report by trying to claim the OIG supported Buttigieg’s luxury jet use.

“As the report confirms, the Secretary travels by commercial airline the vast majority of the time and has directed that travel and logistical decisions be grounded in efficient and responsible use of taxpayer dollars,” a DOT spokesperson said in a statement.

“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 aircraft would be either more cost-effective or should be approved for exceptional scheduling or security reasons,” they added.

“The majority of times the FAA aircraft was used actually saved taxpayers money, including in instances that were required for exceptional scheduling needs.”

The report found that Buttigieg opted to travel on commercial aircraft for 57 trips, or 82.6% of his total trips.

By comparison, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Buttigieg’s predecessor, opted for commercial on 90% of her trips.

Also, in addition to determining the costs of Buttigieg’s travel, the DOT OIG found that the agency, under both Buttigieg and Chao, complied with federal regulations, policies, and procedures for the two secretaries’ travel on the FAA fleet.

But it also noted the agency has used incorrect cost estimates when determining the cost of traveling on the jets, an error that did not negatively impact cost-effectiveness.

“In this holiday news dump, the Inspector General admits that the Department of Transportation has been using incorrect flight cost estimates to justify Secretary Buttigieg’s use of a taxpayer-funded private jet,” Caitlin Sutherland, the executive director of Americans for Public Trust (APT), said in a statement.

“After stonewalling the release of records for over a year, the Biden administration will try to say Buttigieg is in the clear, but Americans will see through this thinly veiled attempt to exonerate the Secretary.

“Travelers are spending their hard-earned money and countless hours on flights to see loved ones this holiday season,” she continued.

“As they sit on the tarmac, they’ll have plenty of time to wonder why they’re paying for their own commercial flights and Buttigieg’s private flights, too.”

The OIG audit was initiated in late February after Buttigieg’s use of the jets was exposed.

As Slay News reported at the time, Buttigieg’s jet use was revealed in information obtained by Americans for Public Trust, a conservative-leaning watchdog group, in December 2022.

After the information was revealed, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to the OIG requesting the investigation.

“It is unclear why Secretary Buttigieg would require such costly travel in these instances when more economical options were reportedly available,” the Republican lawmaker wrote at the time.

READ MORE: Buttigieg’s ‘Equity’ Team Seeks to End ‘Racist’ Private Car Ownership: ‘All Cars Are Bad’

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By Frank Bergman

Frank Bergman is a political/economic journalist living on the east coast. Aside from news reporting, Bergman also conducts interviews with researchers and material experts and investigates influential individuals and organizations in the sociopolitical world.

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