Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten, came to the couple’s defense last week over criticism of the department chief’s prolonged absence during a critical time for the federal agency.
In the fall of 2021, as Congress was putting together a trillion-dollar infrastructure package, a bottleneck supply-chain crisis on the West Coast threatened to spoil the holiday season. During that time, Secretary Buttigieg took an eight-week parental leave. Though 9 out of 10 new dads typically take leave, an overwhelming majority of them (70 percent) take 10 days or less.
Internal records made public by a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and first reported by the Washington Examiner last week show Buttigieg excused himself from his executive duties citing his newborn twins. The secretary turned down public appearances and avoided a meeting request with a top Republican in the Senate, according to Fox News.
“Unfortunately, the Secretary is currently on leave due to the birth of his twins, and that may lead to a delay in possibly scheduling in the future,” an unnamed staffer at the Transportation Department wrote to turn down a meeting with Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley. The Hawkeye State lawmaker wanted to discuss a billion-dollar bridge project in the Midwest.
Buttigieg also dismissed requests for appearances in Illinois and Indiana.
Chasten admonished critics of his husband’s absence last week with the same condescending snark that’s almost become expected of modern-day leftists.
“It’s been 17 months,” Chasten wrote on Twitter on Friday. “You need new material. Go yell at an M&M.”
His remark followed news this month that the Mars candy company would be selling M&M packages with all female characters for a limited time to make a feminist statement.
Chasten’s husband at the helm of the Transportation Department, however, stonewalled requests for the documents on his reported absence.
Michael Chamberlain, the director of Protect the Public’s Trust, which filed the request for records under the Freedom of Information Act, told The Federalist the documents were only released after the group filed a lawsuit. It filed the records request in December and was ultimately forced to sue for access in June last year.
The Department of Transportation is still stonewalling records requests on Secretary Buttigieg’s absence that The Federalist filed the same month Chamberlain’s group submitted theirs. The agency acknowledged the request on Dec. 3, 2021, but has since evaded compliance with the public transparency law despite a dozen follow-ups by phone and email.
Buttigieg’s Transportation Department was awarded more than $100 billion for public transit in the infrastructure package signed by the president in 2021.