WASHINGTON — Tom Price’s apparent fondness for taxpayer-funded private jet trips has attracted the attention of President Trump, who on Wednesday said he was disappointed in his secretary of Health and Human Services, and would personally examine any financial malfeasance.
“I was looking into it, and I will look into it. And I will tell you personally, I’m not happy about it,” Mr. Trump told reporters before departing on a trip to Indiana, where he will pitch his tax reform plan. “I am not happy about it. I’m going to look at it. I am not happy about it, and I let him know it.”
Trump on Tom Price’s private plane use: “I’m not happy about it.” pic.twitter.com/vRmnN57xLQ
— Tasneem N (@TasneemN) September 27, 2017
A series of reports published by Politico revealed that Mr. Price, a proponent of cost-cutting within his own agency, has charted dozens of flights on private jets since May. Mr. Price has made at least 26 such flights, including trips to Nashville, Tenn., where his son lives and where Mr. Price owns a condominium, and to St. Simons Island, a resort area in Georgia near where Mr. Price spoke at a medical conference. His spending has totaled more than $400,000, according to Politico.
Mr. Price, a physician and former Georgia congressman, has defended himself by saying he has a busy travel schedule. On Saturday, Mr. Price told Fox News that he would stop traveling on private jets until a review of his activities was completed.
“We’ve taken many, many trips in cars — sometimes four and five hours at a time,” he told the network.
Mr. Price’s flights have not been the only embarrassing example of spending habits among members of Mr. Trump’s cabinet, or the first episode involving air travel: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was asked about using a military plane for his honeymoon through Europe last month, and found himself under an official review after taking a government plane on a trip that included a viewing of the Aug. 21 solar eclipse in Kentucky.
On Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee launched an investigation into the travel of Mr. Trump’s senior administration members. The investigation, opened by Representatives Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, the committee’s chairman, and Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the panel’s ranking Democrat, will examine the use of private and government travel by senior officials, and will request passenger names, destinations and the source of payment for each trip, among other details.
— Oversight Committee (@GOPoversight) September 27, 2017
The committee is requesting all related documents by Oct. 10.