HHS Chief Tom Price Resigns Following Uproar over Private Plane Use
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has resigned following an uproar over his use of private charter planes for official travel.
White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Friday that President Donald Trump has accepted Price’s resignation.
Trump said repeatedly this week that he was unhappy with Price’s use of private charter planes forcing Secretary Price to offer to repay portion of the nearly $1 million expenses.
The president said Friday he would make decisions on Price’s future in the administration “soon.” He told reporters that Price had not resigned as of Friday morning but offered that “we’ll see what happens later on.”
“I was looking into it and I will look into it. I will tell you personally, I’m not happy about it. I am not happy about it I’m going to look at it. I let him know it,” Trump told White House reporters while expressing his unhappiness with the whole situation.
This is the first resignation of a Trump cabinet official. Price, a former millionaire Georgia congressman was brought into the administration to help the inexperienced president bridge the gap with legislators.
Beginning Saturday, Don Wright, HHS’s acting assistant secretary for health, will serve as acting secretary.
Politico has been dogged in their pursuit of Price’s use of private jets. It reported this week that his trips have cost taxpayers up to $1 million. Price later offered to reimburse about $52,000 of those expenses.
On Fox News, Price attempted to justify the expenses by saying “these trips were approved through the normal process.”
“This is the first resignation of a Trump cabinet official. Price, a former millionaire Georgia congressman was brought into the administration to help the inexperienced president bridge the gap with legislators.”
Price also released a statement apologizing for the plane rides at taxpayers’ expenses. “All of my political career I’ve fought for the taxpayers,” Price said in the statement. “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.”
“Today, I will write a personal check to the US Treasury for the expenses of my travel on private charter planes,” Price said in his statement. “The taxpayers won’t pay a dime for my seat on those planes.”
Health and Human Services Department spokesperson said Price’s promised reimbursement will cover only his seat rather than the total cost of the flights.
“What the Secretary has done is say that while all of this travel was approved by legal and HHS officials, the Secretary has heard the taxpayers’ concerns and wants to be responsive to them,” the spokesperson said. “That’s why he’s taking the unprecedented step of reimbursing the government for his share of the travel. Secretary Price will write a personal check to the US Treasury for $51,887.31.”
Government watchdogs took exception to Price’s offer to pay for his “seat.” They noted that when he chartered private planes, he flew in the plane so he should reimburse for the whole cost, not just the cost of a seat.
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