Energy Secretary Rick Perry flew a private plane to Ohio in October to tour a decommissioned uranium plant with three U.S. lawmakers, according to an airport management company.
Perry flew a chartered flight from the “Hazleton Regional Airport in Pennsylvania to the Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport in southern Ohio on Sept. 28,” PMH Aviation, which operates the Portsmouth airport, told Reuters.
Perry is the latest cabinet member to come under fire for chartering private flights. The scandal started after news reports surfaced that Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price frequently used chartered flights.
Price promised to pay for part of his private flights, and resigned last week — the day after Perry flew on a chartered plane.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have also come under fire for chartering flights.
Price took at least 24 private flights since May, racking up a $400,000 tab. Price’s flights had been approved by ethics officials, but he could have saved thousands of dollars flying commercial, HHS said.
Price chartered planes “for multiple government business trips, even to fly distances often as short as from Washington to Philadelphia,” CNN reported.
When military flights are included, Price’s non-commercial travel cost taxpayers $1 million. The White House approved travel on military planes.
As the evidence stands, however, there are differences between Perry and Price’s travel.
So far, Reuters only uncovered evidence Perry took one chartered flight. Reuters also did not find out how much the plane trips cost taxpayers.
Perry flew a chartered plane into Hazleton, Pa., last week, and Reuters noted no commercial airliners fly to the city. Though there are several commercial airports about an hour away.
While in Pennsylvania, Perry visited the Jeddo Coal Mine in Luzerne County. The mine is part of a federally-funded pilot project to extract rare earth minerals from coal.
Perry then flew to Portsmouth, Ohio, to tour a Cold War-era uranium plant where there’s an ongoing effort to clean up the site’s nuclear waste. Perry was joined by Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman and two House lawmakers on his tour.
The Energy Department did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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