U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who has been criticized for his frequent use of government-funded private jets, expressed regret on Thursday and promised to repay the government for the expenses of his travel.
Price is reported to have used taxpayer-funded private jets at least 28 times since May. One of those trips included a flight to the St. Simons island resort in the state of Georgia, where he addressed a medical conference in an area where both he and his wife own land.
News about the flights provoked controversy at a time when the Trump administration is seeking to cut the department’s budget, even though the secretary’s flights do not appear to have violated federal regulations. Trump said on Wednesday that he was “not happy” about Price’s use of private jets.
As a result, Price announced on Thursday that he had decided to reimburse taxpayers and to stop using private jets as secretary. “I will write a personal check to the US Treasury for the expenses of my travel on private charter planes. The taxpayers won’t pay a dime for my seat on those planes,” he said.
It was not immediately clear if Price would pay the full cost of using the planes or only the equivalent of a plane seat. Politico estimated earlier this month that the secretary’s use of private jets had cost taxpayers more than $400,000 since May, which does not include his first months in office.
“All of my political career I’ve fought for the taxpayers, It is clear to me that in this case, I was not sensitive enough to my concern for the taxpayer,” Price said in a statement. “I know as well as anyone that the American people want to know that their hard-earned dollars are being spent wisely by government officials.”
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