When President Donald Trump rolled into office, we knew he waltzed in as an entitled reality star billionaire. We knew he would nominate and assign roles in his administration to other unsavory characters; however, we still can’t help but be shocked by just how unethically entitled some of them really are.
POLITICO reported recently that Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price had been using private jets as his main method of transportation across the country. They further reported on Thursday just how often Price was using private planes, and the number is astronomically infuriating.
‘Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has taken at least 24 flights on private charter planes at taxpayers’ expense since early May, according to people with knowledge of his travel plans and a review of HHS documents.’
POLITICO estimated the cost of those 24 trips was over $300,000 — all of which is on taxpayers’ dime.
Health and Human Services representatives had tried to excuse the behavior by saying he’s only traveled via private plane when no other option was available. However, POLITICO debunked that and used a trip back in June Price took as an example.
‘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.’
Simply put, rather than buying a flight ticket for a few hundred dollars, Price needed to fly in a private plane that cost over $17,000.
HHS also tried to blame the use of private planes on the recent string of hurricanes, as commercial flights were unavailable. However, POLITICO found Price had flown 17 times privately before Hurricane Harvey ever occurred. Those flights, according to POLITICO, weren’t related to anything urgent, either.
‘For example, Price took a Learjet-60 from San Diego to the Aspen Ideas Festival — a glamorous conference at the Colorado resort town — that arrived at 3:33 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, June 24, nearly 19 hours before his scheduled panel. That flight likely cost more than $7,100, according to one charter jet agency estimate.’
Former director of the United States Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub commented:
‘If you’re going to a conference, you have some [advance] flexibility to book travel. This shows a complete disregard for the expense to the taxpayer.’
Even White House staff are perturbed by Price’s travels, with one senior official claiming the trips have nothing to do with repealing Obamacare and other Trump issues. Another senior White House official commented:
‘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.’
Though many of his trips have focused on the battle against the opioid crisis, many of his appearances have been scheduled ahead of time, and commercial flight tickets could have easily been obtained for the events for far cheaper.
Featured image by Chris Kleponis/Getty Images.