United States Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, the highest-ranking health official in the Trump Administration, has resigned after being named in a scandal worth USD 14.1 million over his use of private planes.
The scandal infuriated President Donald Trump, who promised to bring accountability to Washington. Price is not the only Cabinet official to have used private air charters to travel around the country. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke have both flown on private planes during their respective tenures in the administration.
Price and his wife, who is also a doctor, have an extensive investment portfolio, according to his 2016 financial disclosure form. That made him the ninth wealthiest official in the executive branch, CNN quoted the Center for Responsive Politics statement, as saying.
President Trump fumed to aides about Price's flights, which he deemed "stupid," according to multiple sources. Instead of moving past the storm, Price's offer to reimburse the government for only a fraction of the flights' costs enraged President Trump further, CNN reported.
"I was disappointed because I didn't like it, cosmetically or otherwise. I was disappointed," President Trump said.
Price and his aides have insisted that the trips he took by private charter jet had been approved through the usual legal and ethics offices at HHS. But the appearance of a millionaire Cabinet secretary flying routes easily navigated by far cheaper means proved an optics nightmare for an administration already accused of being out of touch with regular Americans.
Price is the latest casualty in an administration that's seen a high rate of departures over its first eight months. Since taking office, Trump has dismissed or seen the quitting of his national security adviser, press secretary, communications director, chief strategist, acting attorney general and FBI director.
The White House said this week it was examining whether to adopt stricter oversight of Cabinet secretaries' travel plans.