Secretary Tom Price Just Last Week Spent $60,000 on Private Planes at Taxpayer Expense
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price last week spent $25,000 of the taxpayers’ money on a private chartered 30-seat plane for a trip from DC to Philadelphia that would have taken two-and-a-half hoursÂ to drive in a government SUV at a cost of just $46 in gas and tolls. If the Secretary didn’t want to drive, he could have spent $72 on Amtrak, or evenÂ $447 to $725 to fly commercially.
Politico has beenÂ investigatingÂ Secretary Price’s travel, noting the $25,000 flight was just one of at least five, and possibly many more, that violateÂ guidelines for federal officials that state “taxpayers should pay no more than necessary for your transportation.” Each of those five private flights cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars more than flying coach would have cost taxpayers. The five trips cost taxpayers an estimated $60,000.
Here’s the photo op Secretary Price posted from the trip that cost Americans $25,000 in just air travel:
â€” Tom Price, M.D. (@SecPriceMD) September 15, 2017
Secretary Price is a former Republican U.S. Congressman from Georgia. His voting record placesÂ him in the “hard coreÂ conservative” tank, as far to the right on economic issues as possible. In short, he claims to be a fiscal conservative, and has promised to slash spending at the federal agencies he controls.
And like many Trump officials, Secretary Price has been anything but transparent about his work or his travel.
“Current and former staffers, speaking on the condition of anonymity, say Price has been taking private jets to travel domestically for months,” Politico reports, adding thatÂ Secretary Price and his spokesperson refused to comment.
â€œI can understand why the secretary might have to use a charter flight to get to a hurricane-devastated region, but Philadelphia is not one of those regions this year,â€ Walter Shaub, the former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, told Politico. â€œI find it hard to believe he couldnâ€™t find a suitable commercial flight to Philadelphia.â€
â€œThis wasteful conduct reflects disdain for the ethical principle of treating public service as a public trust,â€ said Shaub. â€œPublic office isnâ€™t supposed to come with frivolous perks at taxpayer expense.â€
Indeed, Politico also interviewed several Obama-era officials to determine if Price’s travel arrangement were standard.
They are anything but.
Former staffers for Obama-eraÂ Health and Human Services Secretaries Kathleen Sebelius and Sylvia Burwell told Politico that almost without exception not only did the two cabinet secretaries always fly commercially, they always flew coach.
â€œThe basic rules that our scheduling team worked under were, you flew commercial and you flew economy,â€ former Secretary Sebelius told Politico. â€œThatâ€™s just what they did.â€
Staff for Burwell and Sebelius said booking even a single charter flight was, in the words of one, a â€œnon-starterâ€ within the department. For example, for last yearâ€™s Obamacare enrollment kick-off, HHS staff had planned a multi-city tour for Burwell to urge Americans to sign up for coverage. The effort, which would have required charter aircraft, was ultimately scrapped because of its estimated $60,000 cost.
“We were worried about the optics and the cost to taxpayers,â€ said one former staffer involved in the planning.
In any other administration this would be considered a scandal and there would be calls for Price to resign.
Here’s how one conservative pundit weighed in:
26 years ago a White House chief of staff was ousted because he took a car to New York. A CAR.
â€” John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) September 20, 2017
Politico’s Dan Diamond tweets out a photo of the plane that cost Price decided was worth $25,000 of taxpayers’ money for a few hours roundtrip:
â€” Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) September 20, 2017
Some more responses via Twitter:
â€” Sen. Maggie Hassan (@SenatorHassan) September 20, 2017
Really, @SecPriceMD a charter for a DC to Philadelphia flight?
Joe Biden would still take Amtrak to Wilmington when he was vice president!
â€” Niels Lesniewski (@nielslesniewski) September 20, 2017
DC to Philadelphia*:
Car: $50 gas/tolls
Acela train: $240
United plane: $450
Private jet: See below
*Approximate, round trips https://t.co/V5FqL7pKm0
â€” Tim Hanrahan (@TimJHanrahan) September 20, 2017
â€” Adam Smith (@asmith83) September 20, 2017
â€” ALTðŸ›‚ Immigration (@ALT_uscis) September 20, 2017
We can’t make sure all Americans have healthcare, but we can provide rich people private planes. Nice.
â€” Laura Bradley (@LauranLafayette) September 20, 2017
Yes .. let’s cut medical coverage for tens of millions of Americans so you can fly in style
â€” Rosemary Garvin (@rosemary52) September 20, 2017
I’m sick of these elitist free loaders. When Trump is tossed,everyone in his administration needs to be tossed too.
â€” COLTSFAN4EVER35 (@coltsfan4life28) September 20, 2017
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Image via Tom Price/Twitter
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‘This Is Insane’: Experts Blast McCarthy After He Approves George Santos Attending Classified Briefing on China
U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY), under multiple state and federal investigations, and even a criminal fraud investigation in Brazil, recently stepped down from his committee assignments pending House ethics investigations, but on Thursday he will be allowed to attend a classified briefing by the Pentagon on threats from China.
Santos is facing numerous investigations, including ongoing, pending, or possible investigations from the U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Nassau District Attorney, the Queens District Attorney, the New York State Attorney General, along with the House Ethics Committee.
CNN’s Manu Raju Wednesday afternoon reports: “Asked Speaker McCarthy if he’s OK with George Santos attending tomorrow’s classified briefing on China. ‘Yes,’ he told me.”
Experts are expressing outrage, and are calling allowing Santos to gain access to classified information a “threat to our national security.”
“George Santos should not be getting access to classified information,” the government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) immediately responded.
Last month CREW published a report that states: “George Santos should not get intelligence information.”
“Santos’s misrepresentations of large swaths of his background have proven his tendency to lie for power and personal gain. It is clear that he has not demonstrated the trustworthiness necessary to guard our country’s most closely guarded secrets,” it reads.
“Santos’s serial misrepresentations of the truth about a vast array of subjects have demonstrated an astonishing level of untrustworthiness,” CREW President Noah Bookbinder says in the report. “It would be a threat to our national security to allow him to serve on any committee where he would gain access to national intelligence.”
Retired U.S. Naval War College professor Tom Nichols, an academic specialist on international affairs including Russia, nuclear weapons, and national security affairs, tweeted: “This is insane.”
Just last month Speaker McCarthy banned two top House Democrats, Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff, from returning to the Intelligence Committee. While he claimed it was for national security reasons, some believe it was retribution for their roles in prosecuting Donald Trump’s impeachments.
“I cannot put partisan loyalty ahead of national security, and I cannot simply recognize years of service as the sole criteria for membership on this essential committee. Integrity matters more,” McCarthy wrote in a letter.
Marjorie Taylor Greene During House Hearing: It’s ‘Against the Law’ to Ban My Twitter Account
Members of Congress have access to vast resources to conduct the people’s business, including on-staff attorneys and the ability to contract experts, yet on Wednesday U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) appeared to shun those assets while appearing before the TV cameras while misrepresenting federal law. She falsely declared that Twitter banning her personal account was “against the law,” and a violation of her First Amendment rights as she made clear she will use her newly-restored committee assignments to spread falsehoods, misinformation, and disinformation.
Greene now sits on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee. During its third hearing of the year, “Protecting Speech from Government Interference and Social Media Bias: Twitter’s Role in Suppressing the Biden Laptop Story,” Greene appeared determined to extract vengeance for her personal Twitter account being permanently “suspended” – banned –before Elon Musk purchased the company and restored accounts of countless extremists.
At the beginning of her remarks Greene mentioned the witnesses, including former Twitter executives, and said: “You can consider your speech canceled during my time because you permanently canceled mine.”
“You see, you permanently banned my personal Twitter account, and it was my campaign account also, so let’s talk about election interference, shall we?”
“Let’s explain 52 United States law 10101: ‘No person shall intimidate, threaten or coerce or attempt to stop any other person for the purpose of interfering with their rights to vote or to vote as you may choose,'” Greene said, reading inaccurately from 52 U.S.C. 10101.
For reasons unknown, Congresswoman Greene decided that federal voting rights law applies to Twitter. It does not.
“You didn’t shadow ban or permanently ban my Democrat opponent,” Greene charged. “No, you did that to me. And that was wrong and it was against the law.”
It is not against the law for Twitter to shadow ban or permanently ban anyone, even a Member of Congress and their personal Twitter account.
“You see, not only that, was it was it me, that you violated my First Amendment rights, you violated countless conservative Americans,” she said, which again is false. The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Greene pushed forward.
“These were doctors that were trying to tell the truth about COVID,” she said, of people spreading false or misleading information and disinformation. “Doctors that were having success treating people with ivermectin that you all would not allow to be talked about.”
The FDA has made clear ivermectin is not a treatment for COVID-19: “The FDA has not authorized or approved ivermectin for use in preventing or treating COVID-19 in humans or animals. Ivermectin is approved for human use to treat infections caused by some parasitic worms and head lice and skin conditions like rosacea.”
“These were parents complaining about their school boards, teaching gender lies in their schools, biological males entering their daughter’s bathrooms and sports,” she complained. “These were also people questioning the 2020 election. And guess what? That’s Americans’ First Amendment right. These were people talking about voting machines. You know what? Democrats did that in 2019 before the 2020 election,” she claimed.
Watch below or at this link.
Marjorie Taylor Greene thinks (wrongly) that Twitter broke the law by suspending her account for violating the terms of service pic.twitter.com/xKugHRHZ1F
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 8, 2023
‘Let’s Be Blunt’: Bannon Blasts Huckabee Sanders as ‘Not Intellectually Capable’ After ‘Insulting’ SOTU Response
Arkansas Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivered the Republican Party’s official response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address and was panned from all sides.
Many on the left were angered and outraged as she attacked LGBTQ and Black Americans in a lengthy speech that was tall on culture war rhetoric and extremism and short on policy or vision.
But even those on the right seems exasperated with her remarks.
Lou Dobbs, the far-right-wing culture warrior and former Fox Business anchor, told former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon that Huckabee Sanders’ speech was “unacceptable,” and, “an insult to President Trump” for “not mentioning his name,” as Media Matters reports.
“Sarah Huckabee went to Iraq with the President,” Dobbs recalled, which the former White House press secretary spent an unusually large portion of her remarks discussing, “and the First Lady in the dark of night, for Christmas, with our troops.”
“To not mention is name, to talk about ‘new leadership’ – it looked like the Governor’s Association had written much of that speech, and aligned themselves with Ron DeSantis,” Dobbs lamented, calling it a “lack of respect to POTUS.”
Bannon, convicted on two federal criminal contempt charges, agreed that her remarks were “an insult to Trump.”
“She does not exist, politically, if it’s not for President Trump,” Bannon continued. “I thought the speech was terrible.”
“If you’re going to give a counter speech, you’ve got to talk about important issues. Don’t get me wrong, the wokeism is very important. But it’s not quite the heart of the matter right now, right? It’s not the heart of the matter. She is not — the reason is she’s just not — she’s not intellectually capable of going to the heart of the matter, right? Let’s be blunt.”
“This was like written by Ron DeSantis and the entire RGA,” Bannon said, referring to the Republican Governors’ Association.
Watch below or at this link.
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