Panetta gets VIP flights at coach cost?
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta commutes home to Monterey, Calif., nearly every weekend on a government jet and reimburses just a fraction of the cost to taxpayers — an arrangement that is coming under scrutiny during Washington’s tough budget times.
Since becoming defense secretary in July, Mr. Panetta has flown home 14 times as of last week, continuing the cross-country commute he made regularly as CIA director, and he has no plans to curtail the trips, his aides said.
“The White House understood when Mr. Panetta took the job that he would return to Monterey to visit his family, as he did when he was director of the CIA,” a senior administration official said. “That’s where his family lives, after all.”
Mr. Panetta’s travel situation, first reported by the Los Angeles Times in September, is drawing another look, particularly after President Obama issued marching orders this month calling for all Cabinet agencies to cut back on everything including cellphone use and official gifts such as mugs. But he singled out travel as an area ripe for savings.
News & Politics