Tom Price's reasons for taking private jets at taxpayers' expense don't add up, report says

Tom Price’s rationale for using private air travel to conduct government business — to stay “connected with real American people” — doesn’t quite add up, Politico reported on Friday.

The news outlet pointed to one event Price was scheduled to attend in April: a gathering of health-industry executives and investors at the Ritz Carlton hotel in an affluent coastal suburb of Southern California.

Price was to attend the two-day conference and spend one night at the hotel which, according to Politico’s reporting, offered rooms that start at $US499 per night.

Price was the only government official on the schedule for that event. He never made it, due to multiple flight delays out of Reagan National Airport near downtown Washington, DC.

Price has been under the microscope in recent days over his preference for travelling on private jets in his official capacity as secretary of the Health and Human Services Department. An earlier report from Politico said Price had taken at least 24 work-related trips on private planes since May. The trips have so far cost US taxpayers $US300,000, according to Politico.

The latest revelation also casts doubt on assertions from people close to Price who said private air travel offered the secretary more flexibility to accommodate his busy schedule. An MSNBC/Politico estimate showed other travel options on routes Price has travelled — including a Washington, DC-to-Philadelphia flight Price took recently.

The 135-mile trip would have cost about $US92 if Price had travelled by car, $US544 on Amtrak, or about $US725 on a commercial flight. The private jet Price took instead cost $US25,000, according to the joint analysis.

The Health and Human Services agency’s inspector general is investigating Price’s travel habits, The Washington Post reported Friday.

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