Trump hints at firing Health Secretary Tom Price over airplane use

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Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price's use of private jets is being investigated
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28 September, 2017

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price took a government-funded private jet in August to get to St. Simons Island, an exclusive Georgia resort where he and his wife own land, a day and a half before he addressed a group of local doctors at a medical conference that he and his wife have long attended. "I'm not happy about it, and I will let him know it". Asked if Price's job was on the line, he replied: "We'll see".

Price has reportedly spent more than $400,000 of taxpayer money since joining the administration on private plane travel that the Health and Human Services inspector general is now probing.

"The Committee is 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", read a bipartisan letter sent to the White House Chief of Staff.

The committee sent a letter to Price asking that he "identify each usage of a private, non-commercial aircraft by a non-career official" by October 10.

"I'm not happy about it".

Price's use of private flights stands in contrast to his immediate predecessors, Kathleen Sebelius and Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who would typically fly commercial.

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As the Wall Street Journal reported, during that time Price also invested more than $300,000 in health-care and pharmaceutical companies whose stock price could have been affected by his actions. I'm going to look at it.

The committee is looking at all Cabinet member travel, not just Price's.

On Friday, the HHS inspector general said it "is conducting a review of Secretary Price's government travel using chartered aircraft".

According to a former Obama administration official who is in close touch multiple Health and Human Services officials in the building, there has been growing frustration with each new report of Price's private charter plane use.

Trump spoke to reporters Wednesday as he departed the White House for a trip to Indianapolis to sell his tax plan. Sebelius said in an interview with Bloomberg that when she served as secretary HHS officials were required to fly economy for all trips that were shorter than 12 hours.


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