The Trump Administration spent nearly half a million dollars on private air travel for aides and Cabinet officials according to emails that were obtained by The Washington Post through a Freedom of Information Act Request.
The flights began early in former President Donald Trump’s term when inclement weather prevented then-United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price from flying from Washington, DC to California.
The Post reported on Wednesday:
In April 2017, officials at the Department of Health and Human Services grappled with an urgent request: how to get Tom Price from D.C. to a conference at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Laguna Niguel, Calif., after bad weather delayed the secretary’s planned flight aboard Delta Air Lines.
Officials quickly secured a $29,000 charter flight — which also had to be scuttled, as tornadoes plagued the D.C. region. But the day’s events left a scar on Price’s top aides, who vowed that the Trump Cabinet official would never again wait on a commercial airline’s schedule, and foreshadowed a five-month travel sprint in which the health department spent $456,000 in taxpayer money on Price’s charter flights across the United States.
One of the final trips came in September 2017, when health officials chartered a jet for Price, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and their aides to fly round trip between Washington and Philadelphia — at a cost of $14,955 to taxpayers, according to government records.
That final trip from DC to Philly cost American taxpayers another unnecessary $10,000, the Post learned, based on a report from the Office of Inspector General.
The OIG also “’found no evidence’ that Price’s team consulted with the department’s security office ‘to determine whether security of former Secretary Price would be negatively affected had commercial flights been used,’ according to the watchdog’s 2018 report,” the Post revealed.
Ex-White House aide Kellyanne Conway, who assisted in arranging the travel, claimed in an interview with the Post that she had no idea what the rules were and that she was merely helping to promote Trump’s agenda. In other words, she was just following orders.
“I didn’t know the rules about planes,” Conway said. “This is my first government job, and I never had security in my life. I did what they told me to do, I went where they told me to go, and I used whatever mode of transportation they told me to use.”
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.