Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has come under fire for his response to crises including last month’s train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, and the widespread airline disruptions that interrupted travel plans throughout much of 2022.
He has also faced scrutiny over his use of government aircraft — and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is calling for an audit.
Rubio reportedly requested a review by the Office of Inspector General in an effort to ascertain whether Buttigieg’s flights “complied with all applicable federal regulations.”
The OIG subsequently confirmed that it would perform an audit of official trips on government aircraft dating back to January 2017.
Time to resign in disgrace, Private Jet Pete.
— Tea Party Patriots (@TPPatriots) February 27, 2023
This is not the first time that Buttigieg’s travel arrangements have sparked questions. His decision to allow his husband to accompany him on a trip aboard a government jet to attend the Invictus Games in Europe last year led to calls for increased scrutiny.
Americans for the Public Trust Executive Director Caitlin Sutherland explained: “Secretary Buttigieg’s travel woes keep piling up with this newest revelation that he and his husband took a private jet for a European trip. Taxpayers, who just had their holiday plans completely upended because of Buttigieg’s travel mismanagement, should be furious.”
Some critics compared the situation to that of former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who resigned in 2017 amid backlash over his use of government jets and chartered flights.
The White House National Security Council defended Buttigieg, however, in a statement asserting that it is “standard practice for military aircraft to be provided for White House organized cabinet-level presidential delegations.”
Similarly, a Transportation Department spokesperson insisted that Buttigieg “was proud to be asked to be part of the Presidential Delegation that the State Department organized for the Invictus Games,” declining to confirm whether he intended to reimburse the federal government for the cost of his husband’s flight.
Rubio’s complaint focused on a wide range of potentially improper flights, citing reports that Buttigieg has flown “at least 18 different times since taking office” on government-funded aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration reportedly charges $5,000 per hour for the use of such jets.
“If these reports are confirmed, it would represent yet another troubling example of this administration’s continued willingness to skirt basic ethics rules,” the Florida Republican said.