Tom Price, the secretary of Health and Human Services, is receiving flak this week for having taken five separate flights on private jets between Sept. 13 and Sept. 15, which, according to Politico, in total likely cost taxpayers more than $60,000.
Price, who is also a Michigan native and two-time alum of the University of Michigan, used the flights to attend community health centers in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, as well as participate in a panel discussion with a CEO in the health care industry at a resort in Maine.
The flights have critics accusing Price of being a hypocrite, as he has been developing a plan for eliminating wasteful spending within his department.
According to CNN, Charmaine Yoest, assistant secretary of Health and Human Services for Public Affairs, said Price arranged to fly privately due to time constraints.
“Within an incredibly demanding schedule full of 13-plus-hour days, every effort is being made to maximize Secretary Price’s ability to travel outside Washington to meet with the American people and carry out HHS’s missions,” she said in a statement. “The travel department continues to check every possible source for travel needs including commercial, but commercial travel is not always feasible.”
In addition to criticizing wasteful spending, Price himself has explicitly addressed the issue of government officials using private jets. In a 2009 interview on CNBC, Price condemned congressional Democrats for authorizing funding for several private jets.
“This is just another example of fiscal irresponsibility run amok in Congress right now,” Price said.