An internal watchdog will conduct an audit of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s use of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) jets for official business, the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General announced Monday.
The audit, prompted by a request from Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, will analyze all trips taken by DOT secretaries since Jan. 31, 2017, according to the office’s memo. Rubio requested the audit to determine whether Buttigieg’s use of FAA planes complied with department guidelines after a Fox News report revealed Buttigieg flew on a private jet 18 times since taking office.
“The Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) guidance to executive department heads allows executives to travel on Government aircraft but with restrictions,” the memo reads. “The guidance states that, to minimize cost and improve the management and use of Government aviation resources, Government aircraft shall be used only for official travel or on a space available basis, subject to certain policies and authorizations.”
His office confirmed that Buttigieg used FAA planes for 18 flights over seven trips and said that it was less expensive than flying commercial for all but one trip, according to the Washington Post. The cost of the flights totaled $41,905.20 for Buttigieg and his staff, the Post reported.
A DOT spokesperson said Buttigieg “flies commercially the vast majority of the time.
“The exceptions have been when the Department’s career ethics officials, who have served under both Democratic and Republican administrations, determined that the use of a 9-seat FAA plane would be either more cost effective or should be approved for exceptional scheduling or security reasons,” the spokesperson said.
Buttigieg welcomed the audit on Monday and wrote that the audit would be a chance to quell “misleading” information about his travel history.
“Glad this will be reviewed independently so misleading narratives can be put to rest,” Buttigieg tweeted. “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.”
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