The Plane Truth about HHS's Private Jets

The Plane Truth about HHS's Private Jets

September 28, 2017

Liberals couldn't stop Secretary Tom Price from being confirmed, but they're sure doing everything they can to destroy him now that he is. Desperate to stop him from fulfilling the president's promises by reversing the policies of the previous administration on issues like abortion, conscience, and health care, the Left has turned up the fire on the Health and Human Services chief in the hopes of elbowing out one of the most pro-life members of Trump's cabinet. And this time, they're using something as simple as air travel to do it.

Like a lot of top government officials, Price has the option to charter a private plane for official government business -- especially if there are security concerns or "no scheduled commercial airline service is reasonably available." In the last several months, liberals complain, the secretary has taken two dozen private planes to events around the country -- a luxury, they argue, that costs taxpayers. Of course, that's only a sliver of the travel Price has done since May, but that doesn't matter to Democrats, who want nothing more than to oust one of the staunchest conservatives on Trump's team.

Despite following protocol and having the charters pre-approved by department counsel, Secretary Price said this afternoon that he "regret[s] the concerns this has raised regarding the use of taxpayer dollars... and to make sure everyone knows that this will never happen again, I am taking the following steps:

  • My staff and I will continue to cooperate fully with the OIG and internal review.
  • I will take no more private charter flights as Secretary of HHS. No exceptions.
  • Today, I will write a personal check to the U.S. Treasury for the expenses of my travel on private charter planes. The taxpayers won't pay a dime for my seat on those planes."

The Left's reaction to the news of the private charters said plenty. Some liberals began demanding Price to resign before an inquiry had even taken place! "In light of your breach of the public trust, we write to urge you to do the right thing and immediately tender your resignation," House Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) wrote to the HHS boss. That's a bit premature -- but not surprising, given the Left's own admissions that it's open season on Price. Earlier this month, the New York Times blew the lid off of a coordinated effort to unseat the HHS secretary. A coalition of liberal groups called Protect our Care was pretty open about its agenda, insisting that it would "soon launch a new website that will be highly critical of Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services." Obviously, this latest smear campaign is no coincidence.

Knowing Tom Price as I have, there's no doubt in my mind that he meticulously followed every rule. The department's legal team would have been consulted before he stepped foot on these charters. In the end, though, this isn't about Secretary Price's ethics, it's about trying to discredit one of the most effective social conservatives in Washington. And now that Congress's Obamacare repeal is on ice, the Left knows better than anyone that any modifications to the law will be done directly through HHS. Obviously, the abortion industry -- and Planned Parenthood especially -- will do everything they can to stop those changes from happening. Distracting Price is all part of the Democrats' strategy to keep HHS from following through with the president's promises and policies. As usual, they can't seem to achieve that through anything but personal (and baseless) attacks.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Also in the September 28 Washington Update:

GOP Reform Stops Voters in Their Tax

Steve Scalise's Miraculous Return to Congress

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