Trump's health secretary Tom Price quits over $1m private flights bill

by Luis Castro September 30, 2017, 13:46
Trump's health secretary Tom Price quits over $1m private flights bill

While several cabinet officials have booked expensive charter flights, Price's use of the ultra-pricey service was extensive enough the HHS inspector general has launched an inquiry.

Now under severe political turbulence, Price announced Thursday that he would reimburse the government for the cost of his seat on the private chartered flights, however, not the military flights.

"I will always be grateful for Tom's service to this country and, above all, his continued friendship", he added.

"I'm not happy, okay", President Donald Trump said to reporters earlier Friday when asked about Price, "And, you know, this is an administration that saves hundreds of millions of dollars on renegotiating things, on new trade deals..." So you can imagine the reaction when it was revealed earlier this week that Price has been chartering private jets and using military planes on the taxpayer dime to the tune of $1 million. One trip included a stop at St. Simon's Island, a Georgia resort, a day-and-a-half before addressing a medical conference there.

A former GOP congressman from the Atlanta suburbs, Mr Price served just eight months.

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"Despite this, I regret the concerns this has raised regarding the use of taxpayer dollars".

Price said he'll swear off charter flights - "no exceptions" - and repeated his promise to fully cooperate with ongoing investigations.

On Friday, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Mick Mulvaney sent out a memo to Trump administration officials on the rules for using government funds for travel.

Over the course of three days, Price's charter flight usage reportedly cost taxpayers at least $60,000.

Price has been under increasing fire for his travel choices, given that commercial flights and trains were often readily available at similar times and drastically lower expense. "I think we've still got the confidence of the president and we continue to work on important issues like the flu", Price said. An HHS spokesperson told TPM that Price had committed to paying $51,887.31 for "his seats". It is not clear if he would cover the remaining cost later.

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HHS did not immediately respond to CBS News' request for comment, but an HHS spokeswoman told Politico that Price's flights were necessary.

On a June trip to Nashville, Price also had lunch with his son, who lives in that city, according to Politico.

Politico reported Thursday evening, however, that a White House official had approved the flights Price took on military jets.

Tom Price, the USA health and human services secretary, has resigned on Friday the White House said. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, who as ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, opposed Price's nomination, tweeted that until Price paid back the full cost of the charter flights, he "is still ripping off taxpayers".

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