Pete Buttigieg skirted Chuck Grassley meeting during paternity leave despite touting ’24/7′ availability

Pete Buttigieg skirted Chuck Grassley meeting during paternity leave despite touting ’24/7′ availability

  • January 12, 2023

Gabe Kaminsky, Washington Examiner

Scandal-ridden Pete Buttigieg skirted a meeting request from a top Republican while on paid paternity leave, even though the transportation secretary claimed he’d be on the clock “24/7” during this controversial period, emails show.

Buttigieg, who came under fire for taking paternity leave in August 2021 amid the supply chain crisis, reassured CNN‘s Jake Tapper in October 2021 he was “available 24/7” because of the “nature of my job.” However, the DOT rebuffed the idea of him meeting with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) roughly one month before that interview, claiming Buttigieg was unavailable due to his leave status, according to emails obtained by the watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust and shared with the Washington Examiner.

“Senator Grassley would like to speak to Secretary Buttigieg about the status of a Buy American Waiver Request for the I-74 bridge,” wrote Grassley’s scheduling director, Jennifer Heins, to the DOT on Sept. 20, 2021. “Can we set up a phone call please?”

The senator sought to discuss with Buttigieg an estimated $1.2 billion construction project in relation to a bridge that crosses the Mississippi River and connects Iowa to Illinois.

“I’m so sorry for the delay in my reply,” wrote Mohsin Syed, DOT’s assistant secretary of government affairs, roughly 14 hours later. “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.”

Protect the Public’s Trust Director Mike Chamberlain told the Washington Examiner that Buttigieg should be available on a 24/7 basis, as he claimed, in his high-ranking Biden administration role.

“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 the watchdog head.

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