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Trump Cabinet Secretary Chartered $25,000 Plane for Trip That Could Have Cost $46

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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 hours 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 even $447 to $725 to fly commercially.

Politico has been investigating Secretary Price’s travel, noting the $25,000 flight was just one of at least five, and possibly many more, that violate 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:

Secretary Price is a former Republican U.S. Congressman from Georgia. His voting record places him in the “hard core 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 that Secretary Price and his spokesperson refused to comment.

“I 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,” Walter Shaub, the former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, told Politico. “I find it hard to believe he couldn’t find a suitable commercial flight to Philadelphia.”

“This wasteful conduct reflects disdain for the ethical principle of treating public service as a public trust,” said Shaub. “Public office isn’t supposed to come with frivolous perks at taxpayer expense.”

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-era 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.

WATCH: HHS Secretary Tom Price: $880 Billion Cut to Medicaid ‘Makes A Lot of Sense’

“The basic rules that our scheduling team worked under were, you flew commercial and you flew economy,” former Secretary Sebelius told Politico. “That’s just what they did.”

Staff for Burwell and Sebelius said booking even a single charter flight was, in the words of one, a “non-starter” within the department. For example, for last year’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,” 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:

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:

Some more responses via Twitter:

RELATED STORIES:

Tom Price Has Been Head of HHS for 10 Days and Already Agency Harming LGBT People

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Trump’s HHS Secretary On Millions Losing Healthcare: “Nobody Will Be Worse Off Financially”

WATCH: HHS Nominee Price Blasted by Elizabeth Warren for Wanting to Cut Over a Trillion Dollars From Medicare, Medicaid

Trump Cabinet Pick Bought Stock in Company Days Before Introducing Bill to Help It

Trump Picks Anti-Gay Georgia Congressman as Secretary of Health and Human Services

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Image via Tom Price/Twitter

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Texas Educators Want to Change ‘Slavery’ to ‘Involuntary Relocation’ After GOP Bans Topics Making Students ‘Feel Discomfort’

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An advisory group of Texas educators has proposed changing the word “slavery” to “involuntary relocation” after the Texas State Board of Education directed them to examine how to implement a new law, signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, banning the teaching of topics that would make students “feel discomfort.”

The group, comprised of nine educators, made the proposal for second-grade social studies instruction, but “board members have asked them to reconsider the phrasing, according to the state board’s chair,” The Texas Tribune reports.

State Board of Education Member Aicha Davis told the Tribune, that calling slavery “involuntary relocation” is “not going to be acceptable.”

“Part of the proposed social studies curriculum standards outlines that students should ‘compare journeys to America, including voluntary Irish immigration and involuntary relocation of African people during colonial times,'” the Tribune notes.

Last year in September Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law SB3, which “prohibits teaching certain concepts about race,” The Dallas Morning News reported at the time.

It also “develops a civics training program for teachers,” and “urges educators to teach only that slavery and racism are ‘deviations’ from the founding principles of the United States.”

RELATED: ‘Ghoulish’ Greg Abbott Slammed as a ‘Monster’ for ‘Inhumane’ Response to Deaths of 50 People Locked in Tractor-Trailer

SB3 “establishes that teachers can’t be forced to discuss current controversial topics in their classrooms,” The Washington Post reported last year.

Attorney Imani Gandy, a Senior Editor of Law and Policy for Rewire News Group, responded to the news via Twitter.

This was always the point of the CRT hysteria— to teach white children that slavery was just ‘involuntary relocation’ so they don’t feel bad about what their ancestors did to Black people in this country,” she said. “Classic fascist move.”

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘QAnon Justice’: Clarence Thomas Under Fire as He Suggests COVID Vaccines Are Derived From Cells of ‘Aborted Children’

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In a dissenting opinion published Friday the nation’s far-right Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas, falsely claims that every COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. was “developed using cell lines derived from aborted children.”

As Politico reports, this is not accurate.

Thomas dissented in the Court’s decision to not take up a religious right case filed against New York State’s order requiring all health care workers to be vaccinated against the deadly coronavirus that to date has killed well over one million Americans.

“They object on religious grounds to all available COVID–19 vaccines because they were developed using cell lines derived from aborted children,” Justice Thomas wrote.

No Covid vaccines in the U.S. contain the cells of aborted fetuses,” Politico states. NBC News calls Justice Thomas’ assertion a “debunked claim.”

“Cells obtained from elective abortions decades ago were used in testing during the Covid vaccine development process, a practice that is common in vaccine testing,” Politico notes. There is no human embryonic material in COVID vaccines.

“Justice Thomas has already proven that he is unfit to serve as a Supreme Court Justice,” said U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky on Twitter. “Spreading false information about a lifesaving vaccine is further evidence that he must either resign or be removed.”

Veteran journalist Katie Couric tweeted simply, “This man needs help.”

“The cells are grown in a laboratory and were derived from a few elective abortions performed more than three decades ago,” National Geographic wrote last year in response to the rise in attempts to obtain religious exemptions to the COVID vaccines. “These same cell lines are also used to test and advance our understanding of several routine drugs, including acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin, and they continue to be used for treatment research in diseases such as Alzheimer’s and hypertension.”

Daily Beast columnist Wajahat Ali accused Justice Thomas of being “a QAnon Supreme Court Justice.”

Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, both conservatives, joined Justice Thomas’ dissent.

 

 

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Religious-Right Attorney Says Companies Offering to Provide Abortion Assistance Are Paying to ‘Kill Your Children’

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In the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and reversing 50 years of precedent by eliminating the constitutional right to abortion, dozens of companies announced that they could provide coverage or reimbursements to employees who may now need to travel out of state to obtain an abortion.

Appearing on VCY America’s “Crosstalk” program Tuesday, religious-right legal activist Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel likened those companies to those who cooperated with the Nazis in Germany during World War II and accused them of treating their employees like “slave labor.”

“These employers say they will give money to the mothers in order for the mothers to kill their children so you won’t miss any time off from work rather than give you time off from work, which is what’s required by federal law,” Staver said. “They don’t want to give you the time to be a mother. They don’t want you to be away from the place of work. They would rather kill your children—pay you to do so—so you could jump back into the workplace and you can go through their eight-hour day or however long they’re going put you at the at the wheel so that they can make a profit.”

“That’s the despicable nature of what’s happening,” he continued. “Women and others across the country ought to just really cry out and say, ‘You despicable companies!  You’re paying to kill the children of these mothers so that you can continue their slave labor and continue your profits off of them.”

“These companies and the states that go down this road, they will not be blessed,” Staver warned. “They will ultimately be complicit with the shedding of innocent blood, and we’ll look back on those companies just like we look back on some of the things that happened during Nazi Germany and say, ‘Shame on you. How in the world did this ever happen?’”

This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.

 

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