When Leon Panetta served in Congress and then under the Clinton administration he paid for his own weekend trips home to seek his wife and kids, now that he is the Pentagon chief however Panetta has racked up almost $900,000 in taxpayer expenses because of those same flights.
Since taking over as the secretary of defense Panetta has traveled home to see his wife and family at least 27 times, money that is now being paid by taxpayers.
While Panetta admits he is open to “alternative” solutions he didn’t say the trips would stop. As Panetta clearly stated:
“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.”
While Panetta use to pay for his own trips home aboard commercial airplanes as the Defense Secretary government rules require that he fly on military aircraft which feature secure communications lines.
Panetta does pay for the price of a round-trip commercial airline flights but that amount has only equaled $17,000 since he took over the Pentagon post while his overall flight expenses have exceeded $860,000.
In the meantime the Pentagon has come under pressure to cut costs wherever possible although no discussions have centered around axing Panetta’s trips home to be with family and friends.
Panetta at least tries to make the most of his trips to visit family, often stopping for various business meetings on his way back to California and the Secretary of Defense works from his home office when not in Washington.