Price Resigns as HHS Secretary After Charter Flight Controversy

(CN) – Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has resigned amid mounting outcry over his use of private jets and military aircraft for government business.

“Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas Price offered his resignation earlier today and the President accepted,” the White House said in a statement.

According to the White House, the president will designate Don Wright of Virginia to serve as Acting Secretary.

Wright currently serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health and Director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Trump hinted at the resignation during a gaggle with reporters before Trump left for his New Jersey golf course on Friday afternoon, promising to “make a decision sometime tonight.”

“So I don’t like to see that happen,” Trump told reporters at the White House Friday after discussing how the administration has saved money on relief efforts in Florida and Texas. “And I think it’s a shame, because as a human being, Tom Price is a very good man – I can tell you.”

Politico broke the news of Price’s use of charter flights last week, estimating it cost taxpayers at least $400,000 since May. Some of the flights Politico uncovered were to nearby cities and were not always for official business, including a $17,000 flight to and from Nashville where Price had lunch with his son.

Politico later reported the White House approved a $500,000 series of flights on military aircraft for Price to visit multiple countries in Europe and Asia. When combined, the military and charter flights bring the total price spent on the travels to more than $1 million.

Price later said he would repay the cost of the flights, but Fox News reported on Thursday he would only be giving back around $52,000.

“I regret the concerns this has raised regarding the use of taxpayer dollars,” Price said in a statement on Thursday. “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. 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.”

The news of Price’s flights drew criticism from Congress as well as the general public. Reps. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the heads of the House Oversight Committee, launched an investigation into the administration’s use of private flights on Wednesday, sending a letter to 24 agencies asking of information about their officers’ use of government and private-owned aircraft.

Developing story.

%d bloggers like this: