Panetta air fare: $800,000 and counting
This is a story about excess. It is also a story demonstrating arrogance and lack of common sense.
If Leon wants to be home with “wifey” on the weekends, he could 1) take military transport because there are plenty of planes headed west, 2) set up Pentagon west in Monterey.
This is good light shining on a problem. I can imagine many candidates who would like to have his job and would be happy to live in DC.
“Panetta said he regretted cost to taxpayers for trips home to California
By Craig Whitlock, Published: April 16
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Monday that he regrets that his frequent flights home to California on a military jet have cost taxpayers more than $800,000 since July. He gave no indication, however, that he would end the weekend commutes.
“For 40 years that I’ve been in this town, I’ve gone home because my wife and family are there and because, frankly, I think it’s healthy to get out of Washington periodically just to get your mind straight and your perspective straight,” said Panetta, who maintains a residence with his wife, Sylvia, on their walnut farm in Monterey, Calif.
Flying home wasn’t an issue for Panetta when he served in Congress from 1977 to 1993 and built a reputation as a deficit hawk. Like many lawmakers who returned to their districts for the weekend, he took commercial flights and paid the bill himself. He followed a similar routine when he served as budget director and White House chief of staff in the Clinton administration, although the demands of the latter job made it tougher to escape Washington.
Panetta resumed his cross-country commutes when President Obama plucked him from retirement to lead the CIA in 2009. Given the nature of the spy business, Panetta’s whereabouts usually weren’t public knowledge.
Since becoming defense secretary in July, however, his travels have attracted more attention, in part because Pentagon leaders say they are scraping by to adjust to a new era of austerity. Under a defense budget that will shrink slightly next year for the first time since 1998, Panetta has proposed closing military bases, cutting the number of active-duty troops and raising health insurance premiums for military retirees.”