Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned from the post Friday afternoon, the result of fallout from his frequent use of taxpayer-funded private jets for travel.
The expensive travel, which ran up bills of hundreds of thousands of dollars, exploded into a political controversy this past week. Earlier Friday, President Donald Trump said he would decide by the end of the day whether to keep the embattled HHS Secretary.
“I can tell you I’m not happy,” Trump told reporters on the White House lawn on his way to board the Marine One presidential helicopter. “Probably today something will happen. Something will be announced.”
A statement from the White House said the president intends to designate Don J. Wright of Virginia to serve as acting secretary, effective at 11:59 p.m. on September 29. Wright currently serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health and Director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
Price, whose travel habits already had drawn the president’s ire, has been facing increasing scrutiny for using military jets that reportedly put his total travel tab above $1 million.
Price used military planes—with White House approval—to travel to Africa, Europe and Asia this year, Politico reported Thursday. The trips were to discuss global health security and other issues with leaders in various countries, an HHS spokesperson said.
The news came hours after Price said he would reimburse taxpayers for a fraction of the cost of his domestic flights aboard private aircraft. Price said he would pay $51,887.31 for his share of the costs, according to HHS. There were at least 26 private flights since February with costs totaling more than $400,000, Politico reported.
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