Trump’s scandal-plagued former HHS secretary still has $1.4 million left in his campaign account, and the FEC wants to know what he’ll do with it

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price testifies during his confirmation hearing on January 18, 2017.
Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price testifies during his confirmation hearing on January 18, 2017. Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • Former HHS Secretary Tom Price still has $US1.4 ($AU2) million left in his old congressional campaign account.
  • The FEC recently sent a letter to the committee asking what it intends to do with the funds.
  • Price spent over $US450k in taxpayer money on charter flights during his time as Trump’s health secretary.

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price still has $US1.4 ($AU2) million left in his old congressional campaign account, and the Federal Election Commission wants to know what he’ll do with it.

Price represented Georgia’s 6th congressional district from 2005 to 2017, when he was selected by former President Donald Trump to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services. He resigned less than a year later amid criticism for using taxpayer money to travel on charter flights around the country.

“Your most recent report discloses a significant amount of residual cash on hand,” reads the letter from the commission, referring to the leftover campaign cash. “Please explain the committee’s intended use of the residual campaign funds. If the candidate intends to terminate the committee, redesignate the committee as a principal campaign committee for a future election or convert it to a multicandidate political committee, please note this for the public record.”

Myles Martin, a spokesman for the FEC, told Insider that the commission sends letters to campaign accounts that appear to be largely dormant but have above a certain threshold of cash left on hand. The FEC began sending these kinds of letters to campaigns in July 2018 as part of an effort to ensure better compliance with federal law.

The letter gives Price’s campaign 35 days to respond. If they don’t, the commission could potentially move towards compelling Price to close down the old account, Martin said.

“Be aware that committee assets, including cash-on-hand, may not be converted to personal use,” the letter warns.

The committee has been fairly active, spending roughly $US500 ($AU674),000 ($AU674,277) altogether in the 4 and 1/2 years since Price left Congress. More recently, Price donated $US500 ($AU674) in June to Turning Point USA, a conservative group active on college campuses. He also sent $US2,500 ($AU3,371) to the George Republican Party in April and $US2,000 ($AU2,697) to Rep. Adam Kinzinger – an anti-Trump Republican from Illinois – in March.

Price’s campaign also contributed $US100,000 ($AU134,855) to the “Keep America America Action Fund,” a super PAC that supported the doomed campaigns and former Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue of Georgia ahead of the January 2021 runoffs. Other contributions in the last few years include $US35,000 ($AU47,199) sent to Senate Republicans’ campaign arm in 2019, 2 payments of $US2,000 ($AU2,697) to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Republican primary opponent, and a variety of charitable causes.

Reached by phone, the committee’s treasurer Paul Kilgore said he was unable to answer any questions about what the committee might do in the future. “I’m just the treasurer, I don’t speak for the committee itself,” he said before hanging up. A request for comment sent to the campaign’s email did not receive an immediate response.

The use of leftover cash is notable for Price, who gained notoriety for spending $US456,000 ($AU614,941) in taxpayer funds on charter flights during his brief tenure in the Trump White House. The Washington Post recently revealed new details of Price’s use of charter flights via a recent release of government documents. Price later paid nearly $US60,000 ($AU80,913) to the government to compensate for his travel costs.

Ultimately, provided that he’s responsive to the commission, Price can choose to keep the old campaign account active indefinitely, spending the sum of old political contributions on various candidates and causes in a practice that has been labelled “zombie campaigning.”