Leon Panetta’s Flights Home Cost Taxpayers $860,000

By:  Brian Koenig
04/18/2012
       
Leon Panetta’s Flights Home Cost Taxpayers $860,000

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta acknowledged Monday that his numerous flights home to California, which have cost taxpayers about $860,000, may have been a little excessive. Despite his purported regret, however, he indicated that his weekend trips  — which have tallied to nearly 30 times since July — will not end. He told reporters that 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."

 
 

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta acknowledged Monday that his numerous flights home to California, which have cost taxpayers about $860,000, may have been a little excessive. Despite his purported regret, however, he indicated that his weekend trips  — which have tallied to nearly 30 times since July — will not end. He told reporters that 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."

 
"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," asserted Panetta, who owns a home with his wife in Monterey, California.
 
The Defense Secretary’s seeming imprudence is a U-turn from his so-called "deficit hawk" days in Congress, where he served from 1977 to 1993. Similar to other lawmakers who flew home to their districts for the weekend, Panetta paid for his own commercial flights during his tenure in Congress. He adhered to the same guidelines later on when he served as Budget Director and Chief of Staff to the Clinton administration.
 
"I think the most dangerous threat to our national security right now is debt, very heavy debt, that we confront in this country," Panetta told former Defense Secretary Richard Cheney, and Gen. Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a 1992 hearing. "I don’t question anything you’re saying in terms of the role that this country ought to perform. My problem is how the hell are we going to pay for it?"
 
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Photo of Leon Panetta: AP Images
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