HHS Secretary Price resigns amid furor over private flights

The Health and Human Services secretary steps down amid controversy over his use of private flights.

President Donald Trump's health secretary has resigned after his travel on costly charter flights triggered investigations and angered his boss.
 
Tom Price's partial repayment and public regrets couldn't save his job.
 
The Health and Human Services secretary became the first member of the president's Cabinet to leave office in a turbulent young administration that has seen several high-ranking White House aides ousted. Price served less than 8 months.
 
Trump had said he was "not happy" with Price for hiring private charters on the taxpayer's dime for official travel, when cheaper commercial flights would have worked.
 
The flap over Price has overshadowed Trump's agenda and prompted scrutiny of other Cabinet members' travel. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has launched a broad investigation of top political appointees.
 
The Environmental Protection Agency says four flights on noncommercial aircraft taken by Administrator Scott Pruitt were preapproved by ethics lawyers.
 
Documents show Pruitt and his staff chartered a private plane for an Aug. 4 trip from Denver to Durango, Colorado, to visit the Gold King Mine, site of a spill last year. The administrator also took three flights on government-owned planes to New York, North Dakota and a roundtrip between airports in Pruitt's native Oklahoma.
 
Letters released by EPA show the flights cost a total of $58,000 and were approved by the agency's general counsel's office.
 
EPA's inspector general opened an inquiry last month into Pruitt's frequent taxpayer-funded travel on commercial planes. The Associated Press reported earlier this year that Pruitt often spends weekends at his Tulsa home.
 
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says he's taken three charter flights since March, including a late-night trip costing more than $12,000 from Las Vegas to his home state of Montana in June.
 
Zinke says no commercial flight was available at the time he planned to speak to Western governors.
 
Zinke said Friday he also traveled by private plane in Alaska in May and the U.S. Virgin Islands in March. Zinke wants to expand energy production in Alaska, while the Interior Department oversees the three U.S. Virgin Islands.
 
Zinke says he also went on a military flight with the agriculture secretary to see wildfires in Montana. Zinke says his travel was approved in advance by Interior's ethics officials.
 
He says he works to "make sure I am above the law and I follow the law."
 
 

© 2017 Associated Press


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment