Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price resigned from his Cabinet post on Friday, according to a White House Official. Price recently came under after fire after racking up at least $1 million in travel on private and military jets, a string of taxpayer-funded expenses that drew bipartisan condemnation.
President Donald Trump reportedly accepted Price’s resignation and designated Don J. Wright of Virginia to serve as Acting Secretary, effective at 11:59 p.m. Friday. Wright will serve in the position until a new secretary is confirmed by the Senate.
Wright’s current role is Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health and Director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
Tom Price resigns as health secretary over private flights and Trump criticism
The former Roswell orthopedic surgeon faced public scrutiny from Trump, who told reporters on Wednesday that he was “not happy” with his health secretary despite Price’s stating he would pay taxpayers for part of the bill and stop flying on chartered jets.
Price’s departure comes on the heels of Politico reports that the Health and Human Services chief took more than $1 million in taxpayer-funded trips on private planes to locales from Africa to Georgia’s St. Simons Island.
Among other taxpayer-funded trips—Price frequently visited cities with cheaper commercial flights from Washington or to places where the health secretary’s family resided or owned property, raising concerns about whether Price’s travels were business related.
Though Price offered to reimburse taxpayers for about $52,000 on Thursday; it was unclear how he arrived at a specific dollar amount. In a Fox News interview on Thursday, Price defended his decision, calling his repayment “unprecedented” while stating that the trips were “within budget.”
“All of these trips were official business,” Price said on “Special Report with Bret Baier.” “All of them were approved by the normal processes that every other administration has gone through prior to the trip, not after. But we’ve heard the concerns.”
Price served in the capacity of HHA for less than eight months, notwithstanding a contentious and drawn-out Senate confirmation process, during which Democrats accused Price of crossing ethical lines citing Price’s health stock trades conflicting with his position on Capitol Hill.
Losing confidence of the American taxpayer—Price is the first Cabinet member to exit the current administration since President Trump was sworn into office in January.
Names for potential replacements were shopped before Price’s resignation. Axios reported that former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, and Medicare administrator Seema Verma are potential candidates for the Health and Human Services.
LeNora Millen 09-29-17