Sec. Tom Price’s Private Jet Tab is Worse Than We Thought

By on September 22, 2017
HHS Secretary Dr. Tom Price

Since May, Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Tom Price has racked up more than $300,000 in private flights, according to a report from POLITICO.

His predecessors in the past have flown commercially, but that just isn’t good enough for Price, who has shown he isn’t above using government to enrich himself. While a member of the House, he lobbied for legislation that would benefit companies he owned stock in (and thus himself) and didn’t seem to have a good explanation for that behavior during his confirmation hearings.

Speaking of explanations, Price’s office has issued the following statement in response to the criticism of his private jet usage.

“The Secretary has taken commercial flights for official business after his confirmation,” said HHS spokesperson Charmaine Yoest. “He has used charter aircraft for official business in order to accommodate his demanding schedule. The week of September 13 was one of those times, as the Secretary was directing the recovery effort for Irma, which had just devastated Florida, while simultaneously directing the ongoing recovery for Hurricane Harvey.”

“Some believe the HHS Secretary should be Washington-focused,” she added. “Dr. Price is focused on hearing from Americans across the country.”

And Price also isn’t afraid to make them pay for the privilege of getting to talk to him by spending their tax dollars on private jets.

Some of the trips he took have an astronomical difference in cost. From POLITICO:

But many of the flights are between large cities with frequent, low-cost airline traffic, such as a trip from Washington to Nashville that the secretary took on June 6 to make a morning event at a medication distributor and an afternoon speech. There are four regular nonstop flights that leave Washington-area airports between 6:59 a.m. and 8:50 a.m. and arrive in Nashville by 9:46 a.m. CT. Sample round-trip fares for those flights were as low as $202, when booked in advance on Orbitz.com. Price’s charter, according to HHS’ contract with Classic Air Charter, cost $17,760.

Yikes.

It’s kind of difficult to pull off the idea of wanting to “connect” with the American people when you’re spending their money on private airplane rides that most of them could never afford to take in their lives.