Photo by Gage Skidmore on Wikimedia Commons:

The Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on Monday announced an investigation into Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s usage of taxpayer-funded private jets.

In a memorandum signed by Principal Assistant Inspector General for Audits and Investigation Charles A. Ward, the DOT’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) said they will begin an audit into “whether the Office of the Secretary complied with Federal regulations, policies, and procedures regarding executive travel on DOT aircraft.”

Secretary Buttigieg came under fire in December when it was revealed that he had squandered taxpayer funds on nearly 20 flights aboard private jets since assuming office in February 2021. After months of silence, DOT officials have finally revealed the cost to taxpayers for these flights to be $41,905.20, according to new reporting.

The OIG memo comes in response to a December request by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for an investigation into whether Buttigieg’s chartered flights were arranged in accordance with “all applicable regulations, policies, and procedures.” Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also sent a letter to Secretary Buttigieg last month requesting records, communications, and itemized lists associated with all of his private jet travel.

In December, ATR President Grover Norquist discussed Buttigieg’s use of taxpayer funds on private jets in an interview with Fox Business:

He’s Marie Antoinette telling the peasants ‘Let them eat cake,’ and explaining to people that if you can’t afford the high cost of gasoline, you should buy an electric car for $100,000. He really is treating the American people as if they were peasants and he’s the aristocracy. You’re not allowed to fly around on private jets; he is. We saw this with John Kerry. We saw this with Al Gore. People who live in Washington, who live off the taxpayer dollar, feel entitled to your money.

During the Trump administration, then-Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price was forced to resign after it was revealed that he took 26 private jet flights funded by taxpayers, including some flights which mixed official and personal business. In September 2022, Secretary Buttigieg reportedly did the same, traveling to Montreal on an FAA private jet to attend both an International Civil Aviation Organization conference and a private ceremony where he received an award.

Grover Norquist called out the double standard employed by Democrats in Washington:

You just have to understand: Those were Republicans, and it’s not acceptable for Republicans to act like aristocrats––but Democrats are allowed to. So that’s the difference.

The investigation by OIG could take months to complete. The investigation into Secretary Price’s flights in 2017 took more than 10 months before the HHS inspector general presented conclusions to the public.

Watch Norquist’s full interview here: