United States health secretary suspends use of chartered jets following spending row

HHS Secretary Price defends use of private planes, but admits optics 'don't look good'

HHS Secretary Price defends use of private planes, but admits optics 'don't look good'

WASHINGTON | Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said Saturday he will stop flying private planes on official business while an internal review of the flights is being done and that he welcomes the review.

And in a move that only someone brazen enough to "trade more than $300,000 in shares of health-related companies. while sponsoring and advocating legislation that potentially could affect those companies' stocks" would pull, Politico reports that Price continued to book private jets after the initial reports on his pricey habit, taking more chartered trips last week at a taxpayer expense of $56,500.

Price said there were only 11 trips and defended those flights as official business for Hurricane Harvey and Irma's storm damage and the opioid crisis, which the Trump administration has failed to formally declare a national emergency. The trips have cost taxpayers more than $300,000 and were a sharp departure from Price's predecessors, who typically used commercial flights in the continental US, according to Politico. "We take that very seriously and have taken it to heart", Price said. We've heard the concerns.

He added that he and his staff "will cooperate fully" with the review and are open to "any changes or reforms that are necessary". Pallone said Democrats planned to ask the Health and Human Services inspector general to review Price's travel.

"We've heard this criticism, and we're very, very serious about addressing it", Mr. Price told Fox News.

As a Georgia congressman in 2010, Price criticized then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for "flying over our country in a luxury jet".

Trump said he doesn't think that Mnuchin, who is also being investigated for his use of a private jet in August, has misused federal dollars for his travel accommodations. In contrast, Price's predecessor, Kathleen Sebelius took just one private flight during her five-plus years on the job, to a remote part of Alaska that would have been otherwise unreachable.

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