The Department of Transportation is dragging its feet on handing over Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s government jet records, according to communications between government lawyers and a watchdog group.
The email communications, which were obtained by Fox News Digital, are part of an ongoing lawsuit filed by the group Americans for Public Trust (APT), which argues that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has repeatedly missed deadlines and improperly delayed its processing of information requests related to Buttigieg’s flight records. APT filed its first information request in November and two subsequent requests in January.
“It’s sadly ironic that the FAA is wasting taxpayer dollars by stonewalling our lawsuit for records about Pete Buttigieg wasting taxpayer dollars,” Caitlin Sutherland, APT’s executive director, told Fox News Digital.
“Despite repeated promises they would hand over records, and then missing those deadlines over and over, we now have proof that the FAA did not meaningfully work on our request until after we filed a lawsuit,” she continued.
After APT filed its lawsuit in June, the group agreed to engage in a meet and confer conference with government lawyers led by Bradley Silverman from the Justice Department.
Communications from Silverman indicated that — while the FAA had told APT for months it was in the process of completing the information request — the FAA had never actually started the process of producing responsive records. Instead, it was revealed that the agency had misled APT on the progress of the records request.
Additionally, Silverman communicated to APT that FAA believed APT’s requests to be “unduly burdensome.” According to APT, the FAA never told the group about its concerns before the lawsuit was filed.
As a result of the lawsuit, the FAA ultimately conducted the search and located 32 records. However, the FAA said it will not hand over the documents until approximately Oct. 31, nearly a year after the first request was made.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, federal agencies are required to provide requested records within 20 working days, or 30 working days if an extension is determined to be necessary. The requesting party is allowed to pursue legal action if a court determines it has exhausted its administrative remedies.