Transportation Secretary Chao Has Used Government Planes 7 Times This Year

FABIO MURRU /ANSA

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has used government planes owned by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) seven times this year to attend official events both in the United States and abroad, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

The report comes after Tom Price stepped down from the Department of Health and Human Services over the revelation that he spent about $1 million in taxpayer dollars on private and government plane trips. Several other Cabinet heads are also under review for their travel on non-commercial planes.

Chao’s non-commercial air travel appears to be more typical than Price’s trips on private jets, however. The transportation secretary has used a government plane owned by the FAA seven times, and used them only when commercial flights could not accommodate her schedule or security needs, her office told the Washington Post.

Chao spokeswoman Marianne McInerney also told the Post that the previous transportation secretary, Anthony Foxx, used FAA planes on 116 trips over four years.

By contrast, Price had flown on a private plane 24 times between May and September. One of his predecessors, Kathleen Sebelius, said that she only took a charter flight once during her time as health and human services secretary under former President Barack Obama in order to fly to a remote area that was otherwise inaccessible.

Chao used FAA planes mostly for domestic travel, according to the Post. In one instance, she had plans to fly on a commercial airline to Detroit but had to unexpectedly remain in Washington, D.C. for part of the time she was scheduled to be traveling. She used a government plane in order to make it to the events in both Detroit and Washington, D.C., per the Post.

The transportation secretary also used government planes to fly to France for the Paris Air Show, then on to Italy for a conference with the Group of Seven, and back to the U.S., per the Washington Post.

The department was unable to estimate the cost of Chao’s travel on FAA planes since the transportation department does not have to reimburse the FAA for use of the planes like other agencies.

Read the Post’s full report here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.
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