Transportation Sec Buttigieg often flies on taxpayer-funded private jets, data shows

Buttigieg used the private jet to fly to Florida, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Oklahoma as part of a "Building a Better America Tour."

Updated: December 12, 2022 - 9:50am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, known for his support of government restrictions to curb carbon emissions, has flown at least 18 times on private jets funded by taxpayers since taking office in January 2021, according to a report Monday.

Buttigieg, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, has traveled to several states such as Florida and Ohio and even made trips out of the country using a private jet from the Federal Aviation Administration's fleet, according to flight data reviewed by Fox News. The records align with Buttigieg's schedule obtained by Americans for Public Trust.

Buttigieg's predecessor, Trump appointee Elaine Chao, faced criticism for using the same jets seven times in 2017 at the cost of $94,000 for taxpayers.

In addition, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, also a Trump administration Cabinet member, was forced to resign after he reportedly flew 26 times in private, taxpayer-funded jets that year at the cost of roughly $1.2 million. 

"Everyday Americans face flight [cancellations] and long wait times because Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has completely mismanaged air travel," said Americans for Public Trust executive Director Caitlin Sutherland. "Yet, he gets to avoid all that by taking taxpayer-funded private jets to destinations with readily available commercial airline options."

The exact cost of Buttigieg's flights is unknown, but the FAA previously charged other federal agencies about $5,000 an hour to use their planes, The Washington Post reported while Trump officials were being investigated for air travel in 2017. 

In one example, Buttigieg used the private jet to fly to Florida, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Oklahoma as part of a "Building a Better America Tour."

Buttigieg came under fire in 2021 when he suggested taxing Americans for the number of miles they drive. That same year, he also faced controversy for deciding to use his environmentally unfriendly motorcade over greener public transportation.

However, early in his secretary post he used a bike-share bicycle to commute and rode his own commuter bike that his partner bought for him.