Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg privately used his parental leave to refuse key meetings despite saying otherwise publicly, documents show.
Buttigieg told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Oct. 17 that “when you take a job like mine, you understand and accept that you’re going to have to be available 24/7,” in response to questions about why he did not publicly announce his paternity leave when his twins were born in August.
Watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) obtained the records through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Department of Transportation (DOT), according to PPT. Buttigieg was reportedly using his parental leave status to delay key meetings, including a call with Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, according to newly released public records. Grassley’s office requested a meeting with Buttigieg about a Buy American waiver request for the I-74 bridge connecting Iowa and Illinois. (RELATED: WH Chief of Staff Lashes Out At Report On Buttigieg Troubles: ‘Ridiculous Take’)
Jake Tapper asks Pete Buttigieg to respond to paternity leave criticism.
“As you might imagine, we are bottle feeding and doing it at all hours of the day and night. I’m not going to apologize to Tucker Carlson or anyone else for taking care of our premature newborn twins.” pic.twitter.com/8cxU4X1x1e
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) October 17, 2021
The DOT told Grassley’s office on September 21, 2021, that “unfortunately, the Secretary is currently on leave due to the birth of twins, and that may lead to a delay in possibly scheduling a meeting in the near future,” records show.
Grassley’s office ended up scheduling the meeting on Dec. 1 with Edward McGlone, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs at the DOT. Records show Buttigieg’s office also delegated other meetings because of his parental leave, 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,” PPT Director Michael Chamberlain said in a statement to the Daily Caller. “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.”
Buttigieg has received criticism from Democrats and Republicans for the recent outage at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the mass flight cancellations by Southwest during the Christmas travel season.
The DOT and Grassley’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.