Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg is facing fresh scrutiny over revelations he made a ‘personal trip’ to Portugal in the heat of negotiations to avoid a rail strike over the summer.
“Secretary went on a long-planned personal trip from Aug. 29 to Sept. 5,” a Department of Transportation spokesperson he told Fox News. “As usual, on personal trips he remained available and engaged on urgent matters, which in this case meant multiple calls with staff and stakeholders to work on the topic of rail job negotiations.”
On Thursday, ‘Outnumbered’ panelists spoke out about the Biden administration’s ‘hypocrisy’, with co-anchor Emily Compagno noting that Buttigieg’s taxpayer-funded salary meant Americans were footing the bill for his time off while railroad workers asked lawmakers for paid sick leave.
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“Do one or the other, but don’t waste my tax dollars and my time with you abdicating your responsibilities,” Compagno told the panel. “And the people who pay for it are the members of that union that got a horrible deal.”
“Unfortunately, truth is stranger than fiction here when it comes to this administration,” he continued. “The optics of this one are so poor.”
Enes Kanter Freedom, a former NBA player, said he thought the story was false when he initially learned of the timing of Buttigieg’s trip.
“I didn’t want to believe it,” she said. “While your people are here they are protesting and you are leaving [on] vacation.”
“I thought it was one of those – The Onion news. I was like, ‘This can’t have happened.'”
Jackie DeAngelis of FOX Business immediately called attention to the hypocrisy of Biden officials and other elected Democrats.
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“They never miss an opportunity to take a trip,” he said. “You see Nancy Pelosi in Italy. You see Pete Buttigieg on this journey here, when we’re in different moments of crisis. This train strike has been a huge problem for our economy.”
DeAngelis argued Buttigieg will continue to be “rewarded” for his lack of hard work.
“People like Pete Buttigieg will never step back and reflect on this because they’re in power, they keep getting votes, and people are backing them,” DeAngelis said.
FOX Business host Kennedy suggested Buttigieg didn’t consider the railroad workers’ fight for sick pay important enough to cancel or reschedule his vacation.
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“It’s about his political ambitions,” he said. “You know, people who should be served by his administration be damned.”
The DOT spokesperson did not say what the reason for Buttigieg’s trip was and did not respond to a question about why the trip had not been publicly announced at the time. The secretary flew commercial.
Fox News’ Chris Pandolfo contributed to this report.