Tom Price's air travel cost US taxpayers more money than originally thought

Tom Price, the US Health and Human Services Secretary, travelled overseas on military planes at least twice this year, Poltico reported on Thursday evening.

The White House had twice given Price permission to use military jets for trips to Africa, Europe, and Asia, Politico said. Price’s wife, Betty, joined him on those flights, which cost US taxpayers about $US500,000.

The news comes amid a growing scandal over Price’s use of private chartered flights to conduct government business. Since May, the health secretary has taken at least 24 such flights, at a cost of about $US400,000 to taxpayers.

That brings the total estimated cost of Price’s private and military air travel so far this year to more than $US1 million, Politico said.

Price said in a statement on Thursday that he would pay the government about $US52,000 for the cost of his seat on the private domestic flights. A spokeswoman for his office said Price reimbursed the government for his wife’s travel on the international trips.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he was “not happy” about his health secretary’s frequent use of private planes. “I’m going to look at it. I let him know it,” Trump said, apparently leaving open the possibility of firing him.

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