The US Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg’s, use of private jets will be scrutinised by a watchdog within his own department.
The Office of Inspector General, which works within the Department of Transportation, confirmed it would undertake an audit of flights taken by the politician using government aircraft.
According to the Washington Post Buttigieg’s office said he made 18 flights on Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) planes over seven trips.
In all but one of these trips it was cheaper to use the government private jets than fly commercially, his department said.
The Washington Post was told by that flights for the Secretary and his staff cost $41,905.20.
The Office of Inspector General’s audit will also study Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s private jet usage. The Donald Trump appointed politician held office from January 2017 to January 2021.
In a memo from the Office of Inspector General on February 27, 2023, the watchdog confirmed the Buttigieg’s use of government jets was first raised by Republican Senator Marco Rubio in December 2022.
Rules around use of government aircraft are strict in the US and should be used “only for official travel or on a space available basis, subject to certain policies and authorizations,” according to the Office of Inspector General.
Kerry Arndt, a spokesperson for Buttigieg told the Washington Post he welcomed the review so it could “put some of the false, outlandish, and cynical claims about the Secretary’s mode of travel to rest.”
In a tweet posted by the Secretary of Transportation he wrote: “Glad this will be reviewed independently so misleading narratives can be put to rest. Bottom line: I mostly fly on commercial flights, in economy class. And when I do use our agency’s aircraft, it’s usually a situation where doing so saves taxpayer money.”