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Dem Senators Demand Answers on Money Wasted by Former HHS Secretary Tom Price

Yuval Rosenberg

Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Patty Murray and Ron Wyden sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar Wednesday asking when the administration will recoup hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars wasted on charter jet flights by former HHS Secretary Tom Price.

Price resigned in September 2017 amid mounting criticism and multiple investigations into his use of private and military jets at taxpayer expense. The 21 trips in question cost about $1.2 million — “an extraordinary sum given that Secretary Price took the flights to and from cities where commercial service was readily available at far less expense,” the senators said in their letter. A July 2018 report by the HHS Office of Inspector General determined that all but one of the trips failed to comply with federal travel requirements. The OIG report also found “that the use of chartered aircraft and identified noncompliance issues resulted in waste of Federal funds totaling at least $341,000.”

The senators wrote that the Office of Inspector General told them that HHS has not yet provided proof of any progress in addressing seven recommendations to prevent such waste from happening again. “American taxpayers deserve full transparency and accountability for former Secretary Price's exorbitant travel habits, and they deserve to be repaid in full,” they said.

The senators asked HHS to tell them how much of the $341,000 in wasted funds have been recouped and whether Price repaid the department for overseas travel by his wife. They gave HHS until November 6 to respond.

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