Quite a Ride: Trump Team Flies First Class on Private Jets

Quite a Ride: Trump Team Flies First Class on Private Jets

President Trump's cabinet is giving one segment of the economy a big boost, much to Trump’s embarrassment.

The Trump administration is touting the tax “reform” plan it released on Wednesday as the centerpiece of a long-term strategy to shift the national economy into overdrive.

But one segment of the economy already is getting a boost from the president’s cabinet, much to Trump’s embarrassment.

Trump hinted Wednesday that he may fire Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price over Price’s use of chartered executive jets for personal and official trips. Politico reported last week that since taking office earlier this year Price has run up a $300,000 tab for more than two dozen flights.

“Personally, I’m not happy about it, and I let him know it,” the president told reporters.

Price’s lavish travel habits also drew a rebuke from Rep. Tom Cole, R-OK, an old friend and colleague of the secretary from Price’s days in the House. Cole, who heads the House subcommittee responsible for appropriations to the Department of Health and Human Services, told The Washington Post that Price had displayed “poor judgment.”

“It’s one thing if you’re paying for them yourself,” Cole said of the flights “It’s quite another if you’re turning over the cost of that to the American taxpayer.” Cole added that the budget cuts the administration is imposing on the department “puts an extra responsibility on you, that the dollars you have are stretched to the maximum.”

The Price situation is bad enough, but there’s plenty of evidence that it’s not isolated. On Tuesday, the House Oversight Committee asked Price and more than 20 other agency heads to provide a detailed accounting of their use of private, charter aircraft and government-owned aircraft by political employees since Trump’s inauguration.

A congressional oversight committee also reported this week that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt spent $58,219.19 on four military and private flights between February and August. And Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has been under fire for weeks over his use of a government plane when he and his wife flew to Kentucky for a luncheon with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a private viewing of the Aug. 21 solar eclipse from the roof of the gold depository building at Ft. Knox.

Pruitt also is getting attention on Capitol Hill thanks to his decisions to triple his personal security detail and to have a personal soundproof booth – cost $24,570 – installed in his office. The Secret Service has assigned 18 people to give Pruitt and his family around-the-clock protection, pulling agents from other assignments to beef up his detail

The Post said it’s not uncommon for federal agencies to have soundproof communications facilities like the one Pruitt ordered. Former employees told the newspaper that the EPA already had a booth elsewhere in its headquarters but Pruitt insisted on one for his personal office. The booths have special equipment designed to prevent computer hackers and electronic bugs from intercepting classified communications.