The Transportation Division’s inside watchdog mentioned Monday that it’ll assessment the usage of authorities jets by its high official, Pete Buttigieg, and his predecessor within the Trump administration.
The inspector common plans to “conduct an audit to decide whether or not the Workplace of the Secretary complied with Federal rules, insurance policies, and procedures” associated to govt travel on the division’s plane, in accordance to a memo launched Monday.
The audit, which was requested by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will concentrate on official journeys taken since Jan. 31, 2017, when former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was sworn into workplace, the memo says.
Rubio requested in December that the watchdog decide whether or not Buttigieg has complied with federal guidelines and division insurance policies for home and worldwide travel.
In his letter to the watchdog, Rubio cited a Fox Information article that mentioned Buttigieg had taken 18 flights on “taxpayer-funded non-public jets.”
The Transportation Division mentioned Monday that Buttigieg took 18 flights on Federal Aviation Administration planes over seven journeys.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, additionally questioned Buttigieg’s air travel in a letter to the transportation secretary final month.
Buttigieg mentioned Monday that the audit would assist debunk “deceptive narratives.”
“Backside line: I principally fly on business flights, in financial system class. And after I do use our company’s plane, it’s often a scenario the place doing so saves taxpayer cash,” he tweeted.
A spokesperson mentioned the Transportation Division welcomed the audit “so as to put among the false, outlandish, and cynical claims concerning the Secretary’s mode of travel to relaxation.”
“The actual fact stays that he flies commercially the overwhelming majority of the time,” the spokesperson mentioned. “The exceptions have been when the Division’s profession ethics officers, who’ve served beneath each Democratic and Republican administrations, decided that the usage of a 9-seat FAA airplane can be both less expensive or must be authorised for distinctive scheduling or safety causes.”
Buttigieg has confronted criticism following widespread business flight cancellations and delays final 12 months. Extra just lately, congressional Republicans like Rubio have known as on Buttigieg to resign over his response to the Norfolk Southern prepare derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, this month, which prompted a poisonous chemical spill that has endangered residents and wildlife.