What are the details?
Buttigieg has traveled using private jets in a fleet managed by the Federal Aviation Administration at least 18 times since becoming secretary of transportation. He has jetted to Florida, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Ohio, Nevada, and New Hampshire using the private jets, Fox News reported.
In September, Buttigieg used a private jet to fly to Canada, where he attended the International Civil Aviation Organization conference. But on that trip he also attended an event hosted by a Canadian gay rights organization, where he accepted an award for his "contributions to the advancement of LGBTQ rights."
Taxpayers are responsible for covering the costs of the flights, but it's not exactly clear how much taxpayer money Buttigieg has used to fly private.
Previous reports indicate the FAA charges federal agencies at least $5,000 per hour to fly using its fleet.
It's unclear how Buttigieg's expensive travel coheres with Federal Travel Regulations for federal employees, which explicitly state that "taxpayers should pay no more than necessary for your transportation."
The issue of Buttigieg's travel on private jets is particularly noteworthy because former department secretaries have come under fire for using taxpayer money to fly private. Tom Price, who served as secretary of Health and Human Services in the Trump administration, even resigned after his excessive use cost more than $1 million and wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.
How did the DOT respond?
A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation defended Buttigieg's use of private jets.
"Secretary Buttigieg mostly travels by commercial airline, and has directed that travel and logistical decisions be grounded in efficient and responsible use of taxpayer dollars," the spokesperson told Fox News. "Given that commercial air travel is usually the cheapest way for the Secretary and his staff to travel, 108 of the 126 flights for DOT trips he has taken have been on commercial airlines."
"However, there are some cases where it is more efficient and/or less expensive for the Secretary and accompanying personnel to fly on a 9-seater FAA plane rather than commercial flights," the spokesperson said. "Use of the FAA plane in limited, specific cases has helped to maximize efficiency and save thousands of taxpayer dollars."
The spokesperson did not, however, state how much taxpayer money was saved or how flying private was cheaper than flying commercial.