Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price released a statement on Thursday, vowing to stop using private jets for government business and reimburse taxpayers for thousands of dollars he already spent.
“Today, I will write a personal check to the U.S. Treasury for the expenses of my travel on private charter planes,” Price said in a statement. “The taxpayers won’t pay a dime for my seat on those planes.”
Price noted that all the travel has been “approved by legal and HHS officials” but said he will stop using private charter flights.
“I regret the concerns this has raised regarding the use of taxpayer dollars,” Price said. “It is clear to me that in this case, I was not sensitive enough to my concern for the taxpayer.”
The Hill added:
Price did not specify in the statement whether he would also be paying for the travel costs of any aides or government officials who traveled with him on chartered flights.
The former Georgia congressman has been the subject of controversy after a report by Politico revealed last week that Price has flown a private jet at least 24 times since May, costing taxpayers an estimated $300,000. Some of those flights overlapped with personal events, including a lunch with his son.
Price’s job could be at risk. The White House on Thursday refused to say whether Price would keep his job.
“We’re going to conduct a full review and see what happens,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
“As the president said yesterday, he’s not happy with the actions,” Sanders said. “We’re looking at the issue.”
When asked if he had plans to fire the HHS head, Trump said: “We’ll see.”
Price isn’t the only Cabinet member to come under intense scrutiny for using taxpayer-funded planes.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin used a private jet in August and requested a government plane to take him and his wife on their European honeymoon, while Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt used private jets for government business, costing taxpayers more than $58,000, according to the Washington Post.