Tags: panetta | trips | taxpayers | costs

Panetta: Costly Trips Home Are Healthy

Taxpayers have shelled out more than $800,000 in July to ferry Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to and from his home in California. He shows no sign of ending the weekend military flights, The Washington Post reported.

“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,” Panetta said according to the Post.

Panetta, who has a home with his wife, Sylvia, on a walnut farm in Monterey, Calif., paid the freight himself, flying home on commercial flights when he served in Congress from 1977 to 1993. He did the same when working in the Clinton administration. However, under government rules established by President George W. Bush, the defense secretary is required to fly on military aircraft outfitted with secure communication links to the White House and Pentagon, the Post reported.

The rules also require that Panetta reimburse the government for a round-trip commercial ticket and Panetta has ponied up $17,000 for 27 personal trips, the Post noted citing figures from the Associated Press.

Panetta told reporters he is open to “alternatives here that I can look at, that might possibly be able to save funds and, at the same time, be able to fulfill my responsibilities not only to my job but to my family.”

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