House Oversight Committee Asks Trump Admin To Detail Use Of Private Planes

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

The House Oversight Committee on Tuesday sent letters to the White House and 24 federal agencies demanding details on the use of private and government planes by Trump administration officials.

Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) wrote in the letters that they are “examining the extent to which non-career officials at federal departments and agencies either use government-owned aircraft for personal travel or private non-commercial aircraft for official travel.” They noted that federal law requires officials to use the “most expeditious” mode of transportation possible and that official travel should not “include personal use.”

The letters follow reports from Politico about Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s use of private jets to fly around the country. He used private planes at least five times, costing taxpayers more than $300,000 since May, and Price visited family and friends on those trips as well.

HHS has defended Price’s use of private planes, arguing that he sometimes needs to use a private plane due to his busy schedule. The White House has not offered a full-throated defense of Price, however, noting that HHS and not it cleared the secretary’s use of private planes.

The HHS inspector general has already launched a probe into Price’s use of private planes, and Cummings previously sent a letter to Price asking for information on his flights.

The Tuesday letters mark involvement from the Republican chair of the oversight committee and an expansion of the inquiry about plane use to other federal agencies.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has also come under fire for his use of a government plane to attend a local chamber of commerce event in Kentucky, where he also watched the solar eclipse with his wife.

Read one of the letters the House Oversight Committee sent out Tuesday: