Last Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned due to the scandal surrounding his outlandish travel spending. POLITICO reported that he has taken at least 24 flights on private charter planes at taxpayers’ expense since early May. According to USA Today:
‘The announcement came less than two hours after Trump called Price a “very fine man,” but once again expressed his irritation about how Price racked up roughly $1 million in flight costs on private and military aircraft since taking office in February.’
Now, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings, has written a detailed letter requesting documents from Kellyanne Conway related to flights she took with Price. Cummings is requesting documentation on all private, non-commercial, or military flights she has taken since joining the Trump administration.
Cummings wrote to Conway:
‘You have not made any similar public statements indicating whether your own actions were appropriate, whether you will continue to take such flights at taxpayer expense in the future, or whether you plan to personally repay the taxpayers for the costs of your seats on these flights.’
In response to Price’s comments that he would write a personal check for his travel expenses, Cummings wrote another letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Don Wright and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin requesting Price’s check. He wrote:
‘To verify that Secretary Price made his payment last Friday, please provide by October 6, 2017, a copy of any check or other form of payment former Secretary Price submitted to reimburse his expenses for these flights. ‘
The Oversight Committee also launched a bipartisan investigation last month into the use of private jets by Cabinet officials although Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the committee’s chairman did not sign on to the most recent letters. He did sign on to an initial letter to Chief of Staff John Kelly explaining the committee’s investigation into the use of private non-commercial flights for official government business. Gowdy wrote:
‘The Committee is examining the extent to which non-career officials at federal departments and agencies either use government-owned aircraft for personal travel or private non-commercial aircraft for official travel. Under 5 U.S.C. § 5733, official travel on the part of federal employees must be “by the most expeditious means of transportation practicable” and
“commensurate with the nature and purpose of the [employee’s] duties,” and by no means should include personal use.’
In his letter, Gowdy went on to request documents on the usage of private and non-commercial aircrafts in an attempt to ensure compliance with requirements for official travel.
Congressman Cummings is now awaiting a response from Kellyanne Conway, who most likely isn’t negligent in this matter and is probably just as guilty as Price.
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