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Transportation Secretary Buttigieg under fire again for taxpayer-funded travel

Federal officials reportedly avoided questions about whether the secretary reimbursed the government for Chasten Buttigieg's travel costs. 

Published: January 4, 2023 1:44pm

Updated: January 4, 2023 3:36pm

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is under fire again for his use of taxpayer-funded military aircraft to traveled to Europe with husband Chasten Buttigieg last spring to attend the Fifth Invictus Games.

The Buttigiegs used a "MilAir Flight" to fly to the Netherlands and back to attend the international games for wounded service members, Fox News reported Wednesday.  

"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," said Americans for Public Trust Executive Director Caitlin Sutherland. "Taxpayers, who just had their holiday plans completely upended because of Buttigieg’s travel mismanagement, should be furious." 

Reports surfaced last month that Buttigieg has flown at least 18 times on taxpayer-funded private jets since taking office nearly two years ago.

"It’s standard practice for military aircraft to be provided for White House organized Cabinet-level presidential delegations," a White House National Security Council told Fox News. 

Federal officials reportedly avoided questions about whether the secretary reimbursed the government for Chasten Buttigieg's travel costs. 

Other Cabinet secretaries have been under fire for their travel expenses before.

Former Trump Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned in 2017 after reports surfaced that he spent more than $1 million by flying on government-funded planes and military aircraft. Price reimbursed his wife's overseas military travel expenses.

It is unclear whether spousal travel without reimbursement is allowed under federal ethics. 

In 1990, when William Barr was deputy attorney general, he advised that a president can "ensure that cabinet spouses may use government vehicles, or otherwise travel at government expense, to and from" approved activities. The proposal to allow spousal travel had not been implemented at the time. 

The Defense Department's policy on the use of government aircraft states that as "a general rule," spouses "may not travel on government aircraft without reimbursing the government for such travel." Exceptions are given if the spouse's presence is deemed to further U.S. interests.

Some Twitter users posted about how they were upset about Buttigieg's travel.

"He must be removed!" one user said.

"Transportation secretary doesn't mean unlimited free transportation," another person said.

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