Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, released a statement Wednesday demanding a federal investigation into Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s frequent use of taxpayer dollars to pay for private jet trips to official meetings, saying he would ask the HHS inspector general for a “full accounting” of Price’s travel.
“I would remind Secretary Price that taxpayer funds are not meant to be used as a jet-setting slush fund,” Pallone said in a statement. “There is no reason to be regularly chartering private flights at the taxpayers’ expense between commercially serviced routes such Washington, D.C. to Philadelphia.”
“My colleagues and I will be looking into this further and we will be asking the HHS Office of the Inspector General for a full accounting of Secretary Price’s travel,” he added.
HHS spokeswoman Charmaine Yoest defended Price’s travel.
“Within an incredibly demanding schedule full of 13+ hour days, every effort is being made to maximize Secretary Price’s ability to travel outside Washington to meet with the American people and carry out HHS’s missions,” she said in a statement. “Secretary Price is currently managing public health and human services recovery and preparation efforts for three major hurricanes.”
She added that the travel department checks for multiple options but “commercial travel is not always feasible.”