Price used private-jet trips to visit with son, colleagues: report
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Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceA proposal to tackle congressional inside trading: Invest in the US Biden health nominee faces first Senate test Focus on cabinet nominees' effectiveness and expertise, not just ideology MORE used a government-funded jet to take trips in which he visited with his son and colleagues, Politico reported on Tuesday.  

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During one trip in August, Price flew to visit his property on St. Simons Island, Ga., as part of his trip to a medical conference. Price also went to have lunch with his son in Nashville, Tenn., where he also owns property, during a trip to tour a medicine dispensary and address a local health conference.

Both trips were paid for by the HHS, an official confirmed to Politico. 

The trips were among the 26 flights on private jets that were previously found to have cost taxpayers the equivalent of $300,000, Politico found.   

“To use a charter flight on something that combines personal and government business, I think it’s highly unprofessional and really inappropriate,” said Richard Painter, the top ethics official under former President George W. Bush. 

Painter told Politico that while the trips may have been legal, they may have stretched ethical boundaries. 

As in previous cases, the two flights to Georgia and Tennessee were found to have cost far more than commercial flights available to the same locations, Politico reported. 

Price's office and the HHS have repeatedly defended his use of the private jets, a break from the precedent of previous HHS directors, claiming that the department uses private travel only when other means of transportation are not feasible. 

"When commercial aircraft cannot reasonably accommodate travel requirements, charter aircraft can be used for official travel," a department spokesperson previously told the outlet regarding Price's frequent use of private jets. 

The HHS has also said that Price has been using the jet to connect with "real American people." 

Price has since halted his use of private travel since the HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson opened up a probe into the flights at the request of House Democrats following the original report.