Ousted health secretary Tom Price repaid $60k for his travel
By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR
Mar. 13, 2018
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former health secretary Tom Price repaid the government nearly $60,000 for his costs flying on private charters for official business, House Democrats revealed Tuesday.
But White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway flew on some of those same trips, and Democrats want to know how much that cost.
"The White House has completely stonewalled our requests for documents," Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said in a letter pressing House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., to subpoena travel records for Conway and other White House officials.
Spending on travel and office furnishings by top officials have become a running story in a tumultuous first year for the Trump administration. A White House spokesman dismissed the Democratic push for records as "ridiculous" and a "partisan attack."
Price was forced to resign last fall after President Donald Trump publicly expressed his displeasure over his travel on charter jets instead of commercial flights. The Treasury Department confirmed to House investigators that Price sent three checks totaling about $59,400 for travel expenses, Cummings said.
But the Democrat complained that the White House has repeatedly deflected records requests for Conway's travel. Other government records indicate she accompanied Price on four trips involving stops in several states, Cummings said.
Last spring, Conway accompanied Price to Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, Tennessee, and West Virginia, to highlight the Trump administration's efforts to counter the opioid epidemic. Her participation at local events received media coverage at the time. She also flew with Price to Philadelphia.
As he fought to keep his job as Trump's first secretary of Health and Human Services, Price apologized for the costly trips and promised to repay taxpayers. Tuesday's update from House Democrats confirmed Price followed through. However, that promise wasn't enough for him to keep his job.
The White House has stood by Conway in the face of criticism. Last week a federal watchdog agency said Conway violated a law prohibiting government officials from using their positions to influence political campaigns. The White House disputed that finding, saying that Conway had merely been doing her job conveying Trump's views in her comments on a recent U.S. Senate election in Alabama.
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement that costs related to Conway's travel with Price would have been the responsibility of HHS. "When White House staff accompany Cabinet members their travel plans are arranged, secured and financed by the inviting agency," he said.