Panetta Pays Coach Fare for $30K Flights Home
Defense secretary required to travel on military jets
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Nov 22, 2011 5:17 PM CST
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is seen on Capitol Hill on Nov. 15.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – Leon Panetta usually heads home to California for the weekend, and the defense chief is racking up huge costs in cross-country travel, reports the Washington Times. Panetta has made the journey 14 times since taking the post in July, and the Times says each round trip in a military jet costs about $30,000. Panetta is required to reimburse the government only a fraction of that—the price it would cost him to fly commercially. “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," an administration official tells the newspaper.

Because of his position, Panetta is required to take specially equipped military jets rather than commercial ones. The trips cost about $3,200 per hour, Pentagon records show. But Panetta isn’t slacking off when he heads home, says an official. “He works virtually nonstop wherever he is, including on the weekends, and believes that he does some of his best thinking when he’s away from Washington.” Still, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, who's had her own share of travel controversy, says he “should speak to” the issue “in light of the cuts we are going to have to do everywhere.”

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Nov 23, 2011 2:58 AM CST
Regardless of his political persuasion, I don't see what all the fuss is about. This is a critical government position, and like many, it can't just be filled by someone locally. Where the man lives is where the man lives. This man has a family and a home and I can assure you that ANY Defense Sec works as hard as the president. I have no doubt that he works at home on the weekend too. His is a 24/7/365 job. What would happen if something major were to occur while he was on a standard AA flight home, out of touch with ops and people were killed because he was unable to react? You'd all bitch like girls. No guys, I would want my DefSec with his finger on the pulse at all times, and that means flying in special comms equipped military aircraft. This is part of the price of government and cutting out something like these flights for him would make you all less safe and in the big picture, it would have no effect whatsoever on the defense budget. Suck it up folks And you can call me..............Mr Joshua
Nov 23, 2011 1:04 AM CST
Panetta is a lifelong parasite on the body politic so what else is new.
Nov 22, 2011 10:34 PM CST
What a worthless waste of sperm this creep is. If Obama ran the Pentagon instead of the other way around, he'd shitcan this loser.