Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price said in a statement Wednesday he will be refunding the Department of the Treasury for any flights he has taken on private jets for government business.
The statement released by the HHS said taxpayers will not be paying a dime for Price’s seat on the private planes he has recently taken. Price took several privately chartered flights between Sept. 13 and 15 from Washington, D.C., to participate in meetings and discussions with health care companies and executives across the country, according to a Politico report released last Tuesday which cited airport records and internal HHS documents.
This is the statement the Price released Thursday afternoon in an email from the HHS:
I continue to welcome and am cooperating fully with the Office of Inspector General (OIG) review of processes and procedures related to my official travel as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). I have also taken the additional step of initiating a departmental review to determine if any changes or reforms are necessary. As I have previously stated, all of this travel was approved by legal and HHS officials.
Despite this, I regret the concerns this has raised regarding the use of taxpayer dollars. All of my political career I’ve fought for the taxpayers. It is clear to me that in this case, I was not sensitive enough to my concern for the taxpayer. I know as well as anyone that the American people want to know that their hard-earned dollars are being spent wisely by government officials.
To make sure everyone knows that I understand and appreciate this, and to make sure everyone knows that this will never happen again, I am taking the following steps: My staff and I will continue to cooperate fully with the OIG and internal review. I will take no more private charter flights as Secretary of HHS. No exceptions. Today, I will write a personal check to the US Treasury for the expenses of my travel on private charter planes. The taxpayers won’t pay a dime for my seat on those planes.
I have spent forty years both as a doctor and in public service putting people first. It has been my personal honor to serve the American people, and I look forward to continuing that service.
President Donald Trump told reporters Wednesday that he is “not happy” about Price’s reported use of private planes in office and left the door open to firing the cabinet secretary, saying “we’ll see,” when asked whether he will fire Price.
Other officials in Trump’s cabinet have been criticized for the use of federally funded flights. The Office of the Inspector General is investigating Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin for his use of government funds after he was criticized for flying to Fort Knox, Ky. in August to watch the eclipse with his wife, Louise Linton.
Mnuchin also allegedly requested a government plane for his honeymoon to Europe this summer to provide secure communications during his trip, but the Department of the Treasury found an alternative communication system
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