- Reuters/Carlos Barria
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is taking an unprecedented number of privately chartered flights to conduct official business, taking a substantial financial toll compared to traveling commercially.
Politico reported Monday that Price opted for private travel at least 24 times since early May, including 5 chartered flights just in the last week, the news outlet said.
One trip included a stop in Philadelphia on a private jet from Virginia’s Dulles airport, which is just a 135-mile trip. Politico cited people with knowledge of Price’s travel plans and HHS documents in its report.
The trips also included a privately chartered jet to New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and a resort in Maine.
The cost of such travel can amount to tens of thousands of dollars above commercial traveling. For instance, booking a private flight from the Washington, DC area to Philadelphia can cost upwards of $25,000.
However, an HHS spokesperson told Politico that Price sometimes chooses private travel because commercial options are impractical.
“As part of the HHS mission to enhance and protect the health and well-being of the American people, Secretary Price travels on occasion outside Washington to meet face to face with the American people to hear their thoughts and concerns firsthand,” the HHS spokesperson said. “When commercial aircraft cannot reasonably accommodate travel requirements, charter aircraft can be used for official travel.”
Price, previously a Republican congressman from Georgia, often railed against government spending on frivolous perks, including private travel by members of Congress.