Despite HHS Secretary Tom Price’s attempt to put his travel scandal behind him on Thursday, it got much worse with new reporting that reveals he billed taxpayers more than $500,000 on international trips by flying on military aircraft instead of commercial flights.
According to Politico, the $500,000 cost of these international trips brings his total travel expenses to over $1 million over the course of his short time on the job.
More from the report:
Price pledged on Thursday to reimburse the government for the cost of his own seat on his domestic trips using private aircraft — reportedly around $52,000 — but that would not include the cost of the military flights.
Price’s wife, Betty, accompanied him on the military flights, while other members of the secretary’s delegation flew commercially to Europe.
HHS spokeswoman Charmaine Yoest said Price has reimbursed the agency for the cost of his wife’s travel abroad, but declined to say when he did so. Price has been under intense criticism since POLITICO revealed his extensive use of charter aircraft for domestic flights last week. His travel expenditures are subject to reviews by the HHS inspector general and the House Oversight Committee. Democratic and Republican senators have also demanded information about Price’s travel expenditures.
To put it in context, former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who served for five years under Barack Obama, never took a military aircraft “on her many overseas trips,” Politico noted.
The new reporting comes after Price tried to put an end to the controversy today by announcing he would pay back some of the cost of his travels.
But as Jason Easley and Sarah Jones noted on Thursday, Price said he would only reimburse taxpayers $50,000 – a fraction of $400,000 bill he racked up on private flights in just a few months.
Even without these additional revelations from Politico, Price’s costly and wasteful travel habits were troubling enough, particularly in the context of his and Donald Trump’s ongoing efforts to strip Americans of their health insurance.
With the new reporting on Thursday, Price’s travel troubles got much worse, and his days squandering taxpayer dollars for personal comfort are likely numbered.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.