House investigators want answers from Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and other Cabinet officials about their use of government-owned aircraft or private jets for travel.
The request from the House Oversight Committee is the latest government scrutiny of Price’s use of private jets, which was first reported by POLITICO last week.
Under Federal Travel Regulations, officials are advised to take the “most expeditious” means of transportation and “by no means should include personal use,” Chairman Trey Gowdy and ranking member Elijah Cummings write in a sample letter addressed to Price, who served more than a decade in the House before joining Trump’s administration. Similar letters were sent to 23 other agencies and the White House.
POLITICO has reported that Price has spent more than $400,000 on taxpayer-funded private jet travel since May. A story on Tuesday detailed how Price’s trips blended personal and professional travel, including a $17,760 round trip on a charter jet to Nashville, where Price stayed less than six hours and had lunch with his son. Price has said he will halt all private jet travel pending the outcome of an HHS inspector general’s review.
Other Trump administration officials have come under scrutiny for their travel. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has faced questions after his flight on a government plane to Kentucky, where he reportedly watched the solar eclipse, as well as his request — later withdrawn — to use a government plane on his honeymoon. EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt also has used non-commercial planes for some of his official travel, CBS News reported on Tuesday.
Gowdy and Cummings are seeking details on senior officials’ use of non-commercial planes, including the airplane manifest, the trip’s destination and purpose, the cost of the trip and the dates of use. Agencies were asked to respond by Oct. 10.
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