Politico Takes a Victory Lap as Sec. Tom Price Concedes (Sorta) on Jetgate

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Credit: FoxNews

If you were distracted by the weekend's take-a-knee media frenzy, you may have missed the fact that Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price took a short trip to friendly territory—Fox News—and, for a change, he apparently didn't use a taxpayer-funded private jet to get there.

Per Fox News' report on the segment, Price,

... defended his using of private planes for official travel, saying he welcomes an internal review of the flights that have recently come under scrutiny but acknowledged "the optics in some of this don't look good." He promised to stop flying private on official business until the review is done. "I don't think there will be any charter trips until this review is complete," Price told host Leland Vittert on Fox News' America's News Headquarters. ... "We've heard the concerns. And we take that very seriously and have taken it to heart."

Price's statement is a rare media-induced concession on bad optics in an administration that often doubles down on its bad optics. The media doing the inducing in this case is Politico, which last week published a report by Dan Diamond and Rachana Pradhan showing that Price has frequently taken exorbitantly expensive, taxpayer-funded private jet trips for work-related travel—including for a trip from D.C.to Philly, a route that's a mere 135 miles and is hardly lacking in cheaper commercial-airline options.

Since its intial report last week, Politico updated its math on the cost of Price's private travel: "more than $400,000 in charter jet spending for the HHS secretary's travels since May." Incidentally, Dan Diamond takes issue with Price's attemped self-defense in Politico's latest post on the scandal:

Price also defended his travel practices as necessary for public health or combating emergencies. "Of the 11 trips over the last eight months, the majority of them were for the opioid crisis or the hurricanes," Price said. Many of those 11 trips involved separate flights to multiple airports across several days, and Politico has identified at least 10 distinct charter flights since May that were not related to either the opioid crisis or hurricane response, including flights to conferences in San Diego and Aspen, Colorado. Price has taken at least 26 flights on private charter planes at taxpayers' expense since early May.

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