Washington, Sep. 30 (BNA): Embattled Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned amid an uproar over his use of private and military jets at taxpayer expense while heading one of the US’s largest government agencies.
Price, 62, quit after it was revealed by Politico that he took more than two dozen private flights at taxpayer expense as well as trips to Europe, Africa and Asia on military aircraft, at a total cost of more than $1 million. The HHS department’s Office of Inspector General launched an investigation, as did Congress, according to Bloomberg.
Price is the first cabinet secretary to leave the administration, though President Donald Trump’s volatile White House has already seen the departure of several top staffers.
Trump had hinted earlier in the day that Price’s time with the administration could be close to coming to an end. Asked whether he had sought Price’s resignation, the president said, “no, but we’ll see what happens later on.”
On Thursday, Trump made it clear that he was upset with the health secretary. “I am not happy with him,” he said.
After Price’s resignation on Friday, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney issued a memo ordering government agencies to seek approval from Chief of Staff John Kelly before most travel on government-owned or chartered planes, Bloomberg reported.
“Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right,” Mulvaney said. “Accordingly, with few exceptions, the commercial air system used by millions of Americans every day is appropriate, even for very senior officials.”
Mulvaney said his agency is reviewing “longstanding guidance” regarding the use of government-owned and private aircraft with an eye toward strengthening “existing controls.”