Last week, we learned that Treasury Secretary Steve "Can I borrow a government jet for my honeymoon" Mnuchin isn't the only one in the Trump administration who goes to great, taxpayer-funded lengths to avoid taking commercial flights like some kind of commoner. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, too, has all but made it a rule that he must travel via chartered planes, following a traumatic incident wherein the former congressman suffered through a flight delay. (Never again, he swore.) According to an investigation by Politico, since being confirmed, Price has taken private planes for official business at a cost of at least $400,000 to taxpayers, often for short trips like from D.C. to Philadelphia where airline tickets run in the low hundreds, and a car or train ride would have just as easily sufficed. In contrast, Price's predecessor, Kathleen Sebelius took just one private flight during her five-plus years on the job, to a remote part of Alaska that would have been otherwise unreachable.
Invoicing taxpayers to avoid even the possibility of being delayed was never going to be a great look. But for Price, the optics are especially bad because 1) he is currently working to cut billions of dollars in health-care subsidies and slash funding from the National Institutes of Health and 2) back when he was a congressman, he literally made railing against the use of private jets by government employees one of his pet causes.