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Wealthy, childless Indiana gay couple struggling to make ends meet in DC

Critics mocked the Buttigiegs for being unable to manage a household budget.

Chasten and Pete Buttigieg // CNN

Pete Buttigieg, the US Secretary of Transportation, and his husband Chasten are getting flack for comments about Washington, D.C. being unaffordable.

In a recent article in the Washington Post , Chasten Buttigieg reportedly made comments that the city is “almost unaffordable.” He also complained about the political life and culture in the city claiming that he cannot escape being recognized or hearing discussions of politics, even going as far as to suggest he had to change gyms so he and his husband would not be accosted by lobbyists.

Chasten described his reaction to one instance in which a lobbyist approached him while he was at the gym. “It was like, ‘Well, can’t go here. Can’t go to the lobbyist gym.’” He continued the petulant complaint saying, “Like, anytime you think you’re just relaxing, you’re working. Especially on the Hill. Cocktails, dinners, drinks. Everyone says, ‘No work tonight.’ Then two minutes go by and they’re talking about a pipeline, you know, or a bill or a package.”

The husbands are currently renting a one bedroom, 800-square-foot, $4500-per-month apartment, but Chasten seems to be most upset that they could not afford an apartment with a den. “We couldn’t afford the one-bedroom-plus-den,” he said in the article.

It is hard to understand why the Buttigieg household cannot afford a larger place. Despite Chasten, a former teacher, being currently unemployed, Pete Buttigieg makes $221,400 a year according to a government salary breakdown. Chasten also has raked in some money from his book I Have Something to Tell You, which debuted as number 12 on the New York Times bestseller list. Furthermore, the couple also owns a house in Traverse City on Lake Michigan.

Chasten’s “let them eat cake” moment was not overlooked. Many took to Twitter to call him out on it.

Abigail Morone, the press secretary for Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), tweeted disbelief in the disconnect of the Buttigieg’s from average Americans. “Imagine being so far removed from the real world that you complain about your $4,500/mo apartment not having a den. Americans are struggling to afford basic necessities thanks to #bidenflation but poor Pete & Chasten don’t get a den in their high-end building. Boo hoo,” she tweeted.

The couple may also be getting taken for a ride, suggesting the duo from South Bend, Ind. isn’t very savvy when it comes to navigating life in a big city. The average price of a one bedroom apartment in D.C. is $2,344 a month, according to Apartment List. On the other side of the political spectrum, CBS News White House reporter Kathryn Watson tweeted her shock that the couple actually pays as much as they claim. “My roommate and I have a 2 bed/2 bath + den in the middle of the city and our rent costs nowhere near $4500 a month,” she said.

Amy Tarkanian, former Nevada GOP Chairwoman, expressed concern over Pete Buttigieg’s ability to do his job effectively if he cannot manage a family budget. “If you can’t afford an apartment in Washington DC while making over $220,000 a year (just from the Transportation Sec salary – who knows what other money he has), you shouldn’t be overseeing any federal agency,” she said.

Another Twitter user also pointed out the large income of the couple being inadequate and questioned the Transportation Secretary’s ability to manage a budget. “Odd, Pete earned over $800K in 2019, and currently has a salary of over $200K.  Chasten published a NYT best seller last year and likely pockets much more than Pete. I would hope that someone in charge of the US Transportation budget would be better with money,” the man wrote.

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