Pete Buttigieg avoided requests from the GOP and Dems while on paternity leave
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg declined requests to speak with a Republican senator, direct invitations to him from the White House and a public appearance request from a Democrat while he was on paternity leave — despite his promise of availability — was announced Thursday.
Internal Transportation Department documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act from the group Protect the Public’s Trust showed that Buttigieg submitted a request to call Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and participate in a Zoom call for a event with the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
The reason given was his maternity leave. Buttigieg and husband Chasten welcomed twins Joseph August (named Gus) and Penelope Rose in August 2021.
The transportation secretary came under fire when it was revealed he had taken at least three months paid leave while President Joe Biden tried to pass his infrastructure bill on Capitol Hill and America’s ports were mired in a transportation crisis.
Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg turned down many requests during his 2021 paid family leave — above him and husband Chasten with twins Gus and Penelope after they were born in August 2021
Department of Transportation documents obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request show the denials made on Buttigieg’s behalf
The young cabinet secretary is a popular public speaker and on-camera substitute for the Biden administration.
Buttigieg later argued he had been available, telling CNN in October 2021, “When you take a job like mine, you understand and accept that you have to be available 24/7 depending on what’s going on and you’ve got to.” to become involved.’
However, emails from his staff show he said no to several things, including a request from Senator Grassley in September 2021 to speak over the phone about a request for funds for a bridge in his state.
“Unfortunately, the secretary is currently on furlough for the birth of his twins and this may result in a possible delay in planning in the future,” an employee of Grassley’s office wrote via email, according to sources on Protect the Public’s Trust’s website published documents.
Buttigieg’s office offered to schedule an appointment for the secretary to return or put the senator through with a deputy. Grassley decided to speak to the deputy.
He also turned down an offer to speak on Zoom at an event hosted by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, which had referred the White House to the Department of Transportation.
Greg Ellis of the Indiana Group said a staffer at the White House Office of Public Engagement directed him to reach out to Buttigieg about the event.
“I have signed up for the planning team and am confident that they will be able to do so,” responded senior DOT consultant Lynda Tran.
But senior officials in Buttigieg’s office delegated the appearance to another official in the department.
“I think we can delegate? Can tell he’s on vacation,” the staffer said of the event.
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley (left) wanted to call Buttigieg about a request for funding for his state’s bridge; Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos (right) invited him to the opening of a bridge in her home district
Buttigieg also declined to travel to Illinois to attend a bridge opening there in October 2021 when Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos’ office invited him to attend the event in her district.
“It’s a $1.2 billion bridge that means a lot to the community and has had the support of previous secretaries,” the office of the Legislature said.
But Buttigieg’s staff declined on his behalf, saying he was “currently on paternity leave so he is unable to travel at this time”.
Buttigieg came under fire for taking furlough when he held a top government post.
Additionally, cabinet secretaries are not eligible for the same paid family leave benefits as federal employees — 12 weeks of paid time off.
“Persons in the executive branch who are appointed by the president to positions on the executive schedule are not subject to the furlough system,” a spokesman for the Office of Personnel Management told Politico at the time Buttigieg’s furlough was announced.
“They do not earn vacation time and serve at the discretion of the President. The President may choose to grant him time off.”
Americans do not receive mandatory federal paid leave, although the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Employers usually set their own policies in this area.
Pete and Chasten Buttigieg announced their son had spent three weeks in and out of hospital with an undisclosed illness and spent a week on a ventilator
Buttigieg defended his time off, telling CNN in October 2021, “As you can imagine, we bottle feed and we do it 24 hours a day, day and night. And I will not apologize to Tucker Carlson or anyone else for taking care of my premature twins.’
“The work we do is joyful, fulfilling, wonderful work. It’s important work. And that’s the work every American should be able to do when welcoming a new child into their family,” he said.
He and Chasten Buttigieg later revealed that their son Gus spent three weeks in the hospital following his birth, including a week on a ventilator.
“After 3 weeks in and out of hospitals, 125 miles in an ambulance and a terrible week on a ventilator Gus is home smiling and doing great!” Chasten tweeted in November 2021.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11630035/Pete-Buttigieg-avoided-requests-GOP-Dems-paternity-leave.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Pete Buttigieg avoided requests from the GOP and Dems while on paternity leave