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Inspector General Opens Investigation Into Pete Buttigieg

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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 read.

“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.”

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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.

Kerry Arndt, Buttigieg’s spokeswoman, said that he flew commercial “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,” Arndt reportedly said.

Buttigieg welcomed the audit on Monday and wrote that the audit would be a chance to quell “misleading” information about his travel history.

Has Buttigieg been abusing his use of FAA jets?

“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.”

Arndt reportedly said the audit is an opportunity to “put some of the false, outlandish, and cynical claims about the Secretary’s mode of travel to rest.”

Rubio made the request in December, according to a copy of the letter sent to the inspector general. Republican Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley reportedly questioned Buttigieg’s use of private jets in January, to which the DOT said Monday that 119 of the 138 total flights taken have been commercial, according to the Post.

“Use of an FAA plane in limited, specific cases has helped to maximize efficiency and save thousands of taxpayer dollars,” the department reportedly wrote in response to Grassley.

“Because the FAA already budgets for the operation, maintenance, and leasing of the fleet for core FAA missions, government officials’ use of an FAA aircraft incurs limited marginal operating costs.”

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The DOT, Rubio and Grassley did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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