The Trump administration is one big hot mess — and in the midst of all that’s presently going down in D.C., there could even be another big name on their way out.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was recently busted for repeatedly opting for private jets when traveling as opposed to standard commercial aircraft, breaking with the precedent established by his predecessors and incurring a whopping $300,000 bill. As former White House Ethics Chief Walter Shaub commented, Price’s actions, incurring large costs that are completely unnecessary, indicate “a complete disregard for the expense to the taxpayer.”
The Health and Human Services Secretary now has a defense — and it’s utterly ridiculous. Perhaps it’s true that we aren’t as bad off as we could be under the Trump administration, with most of its members apparently too clueless to actually make anything happen.
A spokesperson for Price said that their boss uses the private jets in order to get around potentially long lines in airports so that he can have more time to connect with the average American.
As Charmaine Yoest attempted to explain:
‘This is Secretary Price, getting outside of D.C., making sure he is connected with the real American people. Wasting four hours in an airport and having the secretary cancel his event is not a good use of taxpayer money.’
There are at least two big problems here.
One, shouldn’t the office of a high ranking government official have better planning skills than to let an airport delay force them to cancel an event?
Secondly, is using a private jet really the only way Price can think of to connect with the average American? Really?
Price’s usage of private jets was allegedly prompted by a public appearance he had to cancel early in his tenure because of an airport delay — although Price’s spokesperson “could not immediately provide details” about that alleged incident.
Making this whole thing even worse is the fact that a White House official explained to POLITICO recently that Price isn’t actually doing anything.
As the anonymous official explained:
‘No one is quite sure what [Price] is doing. You look at this week, we’re doing a last final push trying to get this over the finish line, and he’s nowhere to be found.’
It remains to be seen how Price apparently going AWOL affects his job. The White House “did not approve” of his extensive private jet usage, according to an official speaking to The Washington Post. Additionally, it has brought negative press coverage on the White House once more, and we all know what the president thinks of such a thing.
Price’s massive travel bills have sparked the unsurprising ire of Democratic lawmakers, some of whom have called for an investigation into whether or not Price is violating regulations with his behavior. The office of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Inspector General said that it was “reviewing the request by Democratic members of Congress to investigate.”
This incident is not the first time that a member of the Trump team has attracted such attention and it no doubt won’t be the last. Maybe next time they will have a better excuse.
Featured Image via Alex Wong/ Getty Images