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Price faces probe over private chartered flights

Price faces probe over private chartered flights
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

A government watchdog will investigate Health and Human Services 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 for his use of private charter jets instead of commercial aircraft.

A spokeswoman for HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson told The Hill it is launching a probe into "potentially inappropriate travel" for Price's use of chartered aircraft.

Tessa Williams, an HHS spokeswoman, said the agency will be requesting records of Price’s travel, but the scope of the investigation won’t be limited.

"The review focuses on whether the travel complied with Federal Travel Regulations, but may encompass other issues related to the travel.

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“We take this matter very seriously, and when questions arose about potentially inappropriate travel, we immediately began assessing the issue. I can confirm that work is underway and will be completed as soon as possible,” Williams said.

House Democrats asked for the probe after a report by Politico that Price has flown on private charter jets at least 24 times since taking office, including $300,000 worth of flights since early May.

The White House said it doesn’t sign off on cabinet members’ travel.

Price's spokeswoman defended the flights in a statement early Friday.

“This is Secretary Price, getting outside of D.C., making sure he is connected with the real American people,” Charmaine Yoest, Price's assistant secretary for public affairs, said Friday.

“Wasting four hours in an airport and having the secretary cancel his event is not a good use of taxpayer money.”

Also on Friday, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee called for the panel to investigate Price’s travels, and urged Oversight Committee Chairman Trey GowdyTrey GowdyTrey Gowdy sets goal of avoiding ideological echo chamber with Fox News show Fox News signs Trey Gowdy, Dan Bongino for new shows Pompeo rebukes Biden's new foreign policy MORE (R-S.C.) to schedule a hearing on the matter.

— John Bowden contributed