Price Says He Will Refund Cost Of Private Jet

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said on Sept. 28 he would reimburse the U.S. Treasury for a number of flights he took on a private jet at the taxpayers' expense.

Since May, Price has reportedly used a private jet at least 24 times, costing taxpayers approximately $400,000, The Hill reports.

Price will write a check for $51,887.31, an HHS spokesperson told The Hill, which is considered to be his share of the cost.

"Today, I will write a personal check to the U.S. Treasury for the expenses of my travel on private charter planes," added Price in a statement. "The taxpayers won’t pay a dime for my seat on those planes."

An HHS spokesperson noted that Price had listened to concerns raised about his travel habits. 

"I regret the concerns this has raised regarding the use of taxpayer dollars," Price added. "It is clear to me that in this case, I was not sensitive enough to my concern for the taxpayer."

Price's gesture may not be enough to save his job. When asked about the matter on Sept. 27, President Donald Trump refused to rule out firing Price, commenting, "We'll see."

"I was looking into it, and I will look into it," Trump added, according to The New York Times. "And I will tell you personally, I'm not happy about it. I am not happy about it. I’m going to look at it. I am not happy about it, and I let him know it.”

Trump told one official he would reserve the right to fire Price if any further damaging revelations about the secretary's personal spending practices arise.

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"We're going to conduct a full review and see what happens," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Sept. 28, The Hill reports.

"As the president said yesterday, he's not happy with the actions," she added. "We're looking at the issue."

According to Price's financial disclosure, he has a net worth of more than $8 million.

Other Trump administration officials, including EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have come under scrutiny for their aircraft use. Mnuchin is the subject of an inquiry over his use of a government plane to take him and his wife to Europe for their honeymoon in August.

An EPA spokesperson said the occasions when Pruitt took one chartered flight and three government flights were necessary because his commercial flights were delayed.

"It would have been impossible to make it to the important Gold King Mine visit with a bipartisan group of elected officials waiting for the administrator," the spokesperson told CNN. "Due to the short amount of time we had to make a decision and while the governor's office was working on logistics, we were able to find a charter plane which was cleared by the EPA's ethics counsel."

Sources: The Hill, The New Yor Times, CNN / Featured Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Donald J. Trump/Twitter, Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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