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Price To Reimburse Partial Cost Of Charter Flights

Sep 29, 2017
Originally published on September 29, 2017 11:20 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is in damage control mode. Politico is reporting that Price flew overseas on military planes at a cost of more than $500,000. That report comes after another controversy about Price's use of more than two dozen chartered flights since May. Here's NPR's Tamara Keith.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Price's job could be on the line after Politico reported he took private charter flights costing some $400,000. President Trump told reporters he wasn't happy about it. And so late yesterday, Price scrambled to fix the situation putting out a statement and appearing on Fox News where he made this assurance.

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TOM PRICE: There will be no private air charters at HS - HHS going forward.

KEITH: As for all those flights he had taken, Price pledge to pay back the cost of his seat about $52,000 - a fraction of the total cost. Price insisted all the flights had been approved in advance by HHS officials and that his repayment was unprecedented. Still, Price told Fox News he was working to rebuild trust both of taxpayers and the president.

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PRICE: Clearly, we got - we're insensitive to the taxpayer on these instances, which is why I've taken the actions that I've taken today.

KEITH: Richard Painter, the top White House ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, told NPR it is extremely unusual for cabinet secretaries to use charter flights for travel within the United States and that what Price did was a clear abuse. Painter added, he's putting the money back in after he got his hand caught in the cookie jar. Tamara Keith, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.