Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has a track record of being absent during times of crisis throughout his time in office, and the recent train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, is just the latest crisis being ignored.
During a significant supply chain crisis, Buttigieg was reportedly on a nearly three-month paternity leave to join his husband in bonding with their two adopted infants. Meanwhile, Americans were suffering and unaware of his absence.
While major negotiations were occurring between railroads and rail workers to prevent an economy-crippling strike, the transportation secretary was on a paid vacation in Porto, Portugal. He even uploaded a video to Twitter while on vacation that critics argued was meant to trick the American people into thinking he was still in the U.S., hard at work. The video showed Buttigieg speaking from a U.S. airport, despite the fact that he was still in Portugal.
For the first time, @USDOT is providing consumers with a comparative look at what the top airlines have committed to when your flight is canceled or delayed because of an airline issue. pic.twitter.com/AGd7LQovvr
— Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) September 1, 2022
Following several of these instances of being curiously absent during crises, critics have slammed Buttigieg — but it appears that the criticism has had no effect, as he once again seems to be too busy to deal with the East Palestine disaster.
After a train derailed in Ohio and forced the evacuation of East Palestine, the surrounding ground and water contamination caused pollution across Ohio and in the Ohio River.
While the pollution has caused numerous problems over the nearly two weeks since the disaster, Buttigieg was not on the ground assessing the damage. Instead, he was at a National Association of Counties conference — stoking the flames of racism and arguing that there are too many White men in construction.
“We have heard way too many stories from generations past of infrastructure where you got a neighborhood, often a neighborhood of color, that finally sees the project come to them, but everyone in the hard hats on that project, doing the good paying jobs, don’t look like they came from anywhere near the neighborhood,” he said during the conference.
Buttigieg made no mention of the Ohio train derailment while speaking at a conference this morning but did find the time to say that there are too many white people who work construction. pic.twitter.com/q4WNcq10h9
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) February 13, 2023
Buttigieg — who previously claimed that “racism is physically built into highways” — has yet to visit the site of what Red State described as “the worst transportation-related ecological disaster in recent memory in East Palestine.”
During the conference, the transportation secretary never mentioned the disaster.
Red State went on to question why Buttigieg hasn’t visited the area yet, arguing that it may be because the disaster can’t be blamed on racism.
“Why hasn’t he visited East Palestine?” the outlet wrote. “It’s 93 percent white. Maybe too few virtue points to score? Likely too many white men who wear hard hats.”