US Health Secretary Tom Price quits after expensive private planes for official business

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By: Joy Odor/Kaduna

US Health Secretary, Mr. Tom Price has resigned over the use of expensive private planes for official business.

Three other members of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet are under scrutiny for using private planes while working.

According to BBC news, a White House statement said President Trump had accepted Mr Price’s resignation, adding that Don J Wright had been designated as Acting Health Secretary.

The statement added that an investigation by the political news website Politico found that Mr. Price’s travels had cost more than $1m (£750,000) as well as the $400,000 for private flights, the figure includes the cost of military aircraft used for Mr Price’s trips abroad.

However, hours before Mr Price’s resignation, he told White House reporters that “He’s a very fine man. We’re going to make a decision sometime tonight. He’s a very, very fine man.”

President Trump had earlier said he was “not happy” with the expense.

Mr. Price had previously apologized after making 26 private flights since May at a cost of $400,000 (£300,000) to taxpayers.

“Government officials, except those dealing with national security matters, are required to take commercial flights for work related travel”.

“According to Politico and the Washington Post Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke flew from Las Vegas to Montana last June on a private jet that cost taxpayers more than $12,000, while Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is accused of flying with his wife to view last month’s solar eclipse.

“Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt has spent more than $58,000 on non-commercial travel”.

“The Vegas-Montana trip – a route served by commercial flights – Mr Zinke is also reported to have used private jets between St Croix and St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands in March, and a military aircraft to travel to Norway in May.

“Interior department spokeswoman Heather Swift said in a statement that, as with previous interior secretaries, Mr Zinke “traveled on charter flights when there were no commercial options available”.

“All travel is pre-approved by the ethics office before booking and the charter flights went through an additional level of due diligence,” she said.

 

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