Politico first reported this week that Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has been chartering private jets, including five flights last week alone, but the problem is apparently much bigger than that.
Price has booked at least 24 flights on private jets, including a flight to the Aspen Ideas Festival. A spokesman for Price says he chartered the flights to direct recovery efforts following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, but most of the flights took place before hurricane season even arrived.
The cost of the trips identified by POLITICO exceeds $300,000, according to a review of federal contracts and similar trip itineraries. [...]
POLITICO identified at least 17 charter flights that took place before the first storm — Hurricane Harvey — hit in late August, and included flights that did not appear to be for urgent HHS public health priorities.
For example, Price took a Learjet-60 from San Diego to the Aspen Ideas Festival — a glamorous conference at the Colorado resort town — that arrived at 3:33 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, June 24, nearly 19 hours before his scheduled panel. That flight likely cost more than $7,100, according to one charter jet agency estimate.
I just love the idea of Trump's supposedly anti-elitist regime booking private, taxpayer-funded jets to the fucking Aspen Ideas Festival. It's perfect.
Tom Price should resign, of course, but I don't expect he will.
The department's inspector general has launched an investigation of Price's flights, but Congress should launch their own. The money Price is using for his flights was appropriated for the department by Congress and I doubt this is what they had in mind.
Price, as you know, had made it his mission to reduce wasteful spending. Or something.