Photo by Gage Skidmore licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0:

A recent report exposed Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg for squandering taxpayer funds on nearly 20 flights aboard private jets, bringing ethics concerns into focus.

On Monday, watchdog organization Americans for Public Trust announced they had obtained flight-tracking data showing that Secretary Buttigieg has taken at least 18 taxpayer-funded flights on private jets since assuming office in February 2021. The travel largely consisted of visits to swing states aboard jets managed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Although the Department of Transportation has yet to specify the total cost of the travel, the Washington Post reported in 2017 that the FAA charges federal agencies approximately $5,000 per hour for usage of their private jet fleet, likely adding up to significant costs for taxpayers across Buttigieg’s 18 reported flights.

Buttigieg follows in the footsteps of Al Gore and John Kerry. He constantly hectors Americans about their fossil fuel use, telling others to just buy an electric car if they can’t afford high gas prices and declaring last year that a “climate crisis is here today, threatening Americans’ lives and livelihoods.” In 2019, he even announced his support for Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s extreme “Green New Deal” proposal, which envisioned a future where air travel “stops becoming necessary” within the decade.

Buttigieg’s travel on private jets, which are as much as 14 times more carbon-intensive per passenger as compared to commercial flight and 50 times more carbon-intensive as compared to train travel, stands in direct opposition to his stated goals and his vision for how other Americans should be allowed to live their lives.

In an interview with Fox Business on Monday, ATR President Grover Norquist said of Buttigieg:

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.

In 2017, the Trump administration’s Health and Human Services 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, 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.

Watch the full interview here: