Despite claiming that he continued his work while on parental leave, documents reveal that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg took advantage of his time off and skipped several important meetings.
According to the Daily Caller, the watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) managed to acquire the records in question after a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. After he and his partner adopted twins in August of 2021, Buttigieg used parental leave as an excuse to miss a planned phone call with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who wanted to discuss a “Buy American” waiver request for the I-74 bridge that connects Iowa and Illinois. Buttigieg also delegated away responsibilities for other meetings, including a speaking engagement with the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
“It appears as though, during his paternity leave, he was not always available when called upon and did not have some necessary contingencies in place to ensure the continuity of operations at DOT,” said PPT Director Michael Chamberlain. “Perhaps it is not a coincidence that so many crises involving the Department, from the supply chain breakdown to the FAA system outage that grounded flights all over the country, have occurred on his watch.”
However, Buttigieg had publicly claimed that he continued working even during the parental leave. In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper in October of last year, Buttigieg said that “when you take a job like mine, you understand and accept that you’re going to have to be available 24/7.”
The aforementioned supply chain crisis in late 2021 saw numerous cargo ships backed up off the coast of California due to a massive backup in the Port of Los Angeles, severely affecting the ability of stores across the country to keep their shelves stocked with goods. More recently, Southwest Airlines canceled at least 60 percent of all flights during the Christmas season, and the Federal Aviation Administration had to briefly ground every flight in the country due to a system outage earlier this week.
All of these crises fall under Buttigieg’s jurisdiction as Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT), thus earning him widespread criticism from Democrats and Republicans. Buttigieg has widely been described as inexperienced and unqualified for the job, as he has no experience in transportation and has never held an executive role before; he previously served as the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana prior to running for President in 2020. It is believed that he only received a Cabinet position in the Biden Administration as a reward for him strategically withdrawing from the primaries early on, allowing the establishment vote to consolidate behind Biden in an ultimately successful effort to stop the insurgent candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).