HHS Tom Price chartered government-funded jets to places he owns property

Joy Montgomery
September 28, 2017

When the story about HHS Secretary Tom Price's private-jet travel first broke, it appeared that this was a different kind of controversy because the Republican cabinet secretary's trips were strictly professional in nature. Trump's stuck by him until now but this is obviously a bad look for a populist White House, especially with Steve Mnuchin's use of government jets also being scrutinized.

If ObamaCare repeal is dead for now, despite Trump's protests to the contrary, this would be a fine time for him to shed himself of Price's embarrassing private-jet shenanigans.

Asked whether he's planning on firing Price, Trump responded: "We'll see".

"I have no idea who came up with this notion and where it came from, and the notion you could spend $400,000 in what, 5 months, is stunning", Sebelius told Bloomberg.

Much like he did with immigration, Trump reportedly told lawmakers he would work with Democrats if the GOP could not get health care reform accomplished, according to Reuters.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, said in an interview Wednesday that while he had not yet had a chance to talk to Price, his practice of taking so many charter planes reflected "poor judgment".

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Trump's remarks were the latest example of the White House distancing itself from Price's actions.

The committee sent a letter to Price asking that he "identify each usage of a private, non-commercial aircraft by a non-career official" by October 10.

Charter plane operators estimated 24 flights would have cost $300,000, Politico reported.

Price's use of private flights stands in contrast to his immediate predecessors, Kathleen Sebelius and Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who would typically fly commercial.

Investigators will seek records of Price's travel and review the justifications that he and his staff gave for the trips, the spokeswoman for HHS Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson said.

Politico threw another grenade at Price over his jet travel last night although it was lost in the hubbub over the Alabama Senate race. The exceptions are when they are traveling with the president or vice president, who fly aboard government planes.

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