Politico: Tom Price Took Private Jet On Five Separate Official Trips Last Week

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, testifies before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on FY'18 budget on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 15, 2017.    (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price spent tens of thousands of dollars to take a private jet to travel up and down the East Coast last week, Politico reported.

The move isn’t illegal, but breaks with the precedent of his predecessors who took commercial flights for official business travel.

A department spokesperson declined to share details of the flights with Politico or say who paid for the trips, but said Price occasionally uses a charter aircraft for official travel when commercial flights aren’t feasible.

None of the organizations that Price met with in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania paid for his travel, Politico confirmed.

Several current and former Health and Human Services staffers told Politico that Price has been using private jets for domestic travel for months.

While not illegal, the practice is considered suspicious and is characterized as an irresponsible use of taxpayer funds, Walter Shaub, the former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics told Politico. 

In apparent reaction to Politico’s reports, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) announced Wednesday he’s planning to ask the department’s Inspector General to look into Price’s use of private planes for government business, according to a statement.

The ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce committee said he wants to see a “full accounting” of Price’s travel.

Read the full report — which outlines all the feasible methods of commercial travel at the dates and times of Price’s trips — here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.
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