Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s office is refusing to share the taxpayer cost of multiple flights he took on government-managed executive jets to swing states last year in the face of an ongoing lawsuit filed to obtain the information.
“Secretary Buttigieg continues to blow off the American people who simply want to know the true cost of his taxpayer-funded private jet trips,” APT Executive Director Caitlin Sutherland told Fox News Digital. “After multiple FOIA requests, a lawsuit, and an ongoing inspector general investigation, Buttigieg’s office still refuses to provide vital details about using a private government jet for a swing state tour, which appears more akin to campaigning than official DOT business.”
“Buttigieg looks to be politicizing his role and making it clear that he believes he’s above accountability and transparency, a dismissive attitude that seems to be endemic throughout the Biden administration,” Sutherland said.
The first of the trips of which the DOT is withholding taxpayer costs involves one flight Buttigieg and senior staffers took on a government jet to Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 11, 2022, for an event announcing grants awarded under the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program. The RAISE program was established by President Biden’s 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Government lawyers told APT the costs of the flight to Tucson would be withheld because Buttigieg’s use of the jet was justified by unexpected commercial flight cancelations.
The second of the trips of which the DOT is withholding costs involves seven flights Buttigieg and his staff took on a government jet to Florida, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Ohio, Nevada and New Hampshire during an Aug. 23-26, 2022, trip dubbed the Building a Better America Tour. The tour — to states that, like Arizona, have widely been considered swing states in recent federal elections — was scheduled to announce more RAISE grant recipients.
“The way I usually travel is in economy class aboard an airliner like everybody else,” Buttigieg told lawmakers during a House hearing in September after he was questioned on his use of government jets. “When we do it differently, it’s often because it will save taxpayer money.”
That line of questioning — during which Buttigieg failed to mention there are cases, like his two trips in August 2022, when the use of government jets doesn’t save taxpayers money — came after multiple Fox News Digital reports highlighting how the transportation secretary has utilized two taxpayer-funded Cessna 560XL private jets managed by the DOT’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
In December 2022, Fox News Digital reported that, based on flight tracking data, Buttigieg had taken 18 trips on the FAA-managed fleet of executive aircraft which are reserved for government officials on occasions when flying commercial isn’t feasible. The flight records aligned with Buttigieg’s internal calendar obtained at the time by APT.
That report led the DOT Office of the Inspector General to open an investigation in late February into Buttigieg’s extensive use of the FAA’s fleet of executive jets.
APT filed an information request for the costs associated with Buttigieg’s travels on the FAA jets in late 2022 and filed two subsequent requests for similar data in January 2023. In June, after the FAA delayed production of the information APT requested, the group filed its lawsuit — which yielded the latest information — to force the agency to share the data.
The FAA then, for months, repeatedly delayed processing APT’s information requests related to Buttigieg’s flight records. Late last month, after its months-long delays, the agency finally shared with APT its internal cost analyses for 10 of the 18 flights Buttigieg took on government jets in 2021 and 2022.