The Department of Transportation (DOT) has refused to disclose the taxpayer costs of 23 flights taken by Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his advisors on government private jets since taking office. The stonewalling comes amid an ongoing inspector general audit of Buttigieg’s use of the planes, which are part of a small fleet managed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). While the DOT and the agency’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) office declined to provide information on how much each flight cost taxpayers, watchdog groups like Americans for Public Trust and Protect the Public’s Trust are calling for transparency.

Americans for Public Trust executive director Caitlin Sutherland told Fox News Digital that it is “inexcusable” for the DOT to hide the costs of taxpayer-funded flights, adding that “Federal law dictates a timely release of exactly these types of records to the public.” She believes that the American people are entitled to know the true cost of Buttigieg and his entourage of staffers flying private to destinations that have readily available commercial options.

The DOT’s inspector general announced on Feb. 27 that it would investigate whether Buttigieg’s office has complied with federal laws regarding executive travel on DOT aircraft for official trips. The probe was requested by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in response to a Fox News Digital report in December that revealed Buttigieg had taken 18 trips on the FAA planes since January 2021.

After the December report, Fox News Digital filed a FOIA request for detailed information and costs of all flights logged by FAA planes since early 2021. However, the DOT FOIA office repeatedly delayed providing the requested information, citing various reasons, until Feb. 27, hours after the inspector general investigation was announced. The information showed that in addition to Buttigieg’s 18 flights, his advisers and communications team logged another three flights. But, the FOIA office opted to leave costs associated with all the flights carrying Buttigieg and his advisers blank and ignored multiple attempts for clarification.

Michael Chamberlain, the director of another watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust, expressed concern at the agency’s apparent attempt to hide information from the public.

The DOT has refused to disclose the taxpayer costs of 23 flights taken by Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his advisors on government private jets since taking office. While watchdog groups like Americans for Public Trust and Protect the Public’s Trust are calling for transparency, the DOT and the agency’s FOIA office declined to provide information on how much each flight cost taxpayers, citing various reasons. The ongoing inspector general audit of Buttigieg’s use of the planes has raised questions about whether Buttigieg’s office has complied with federal laws regarding executive travel on DOT aircraft for official trips.

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