Price had lunch with son during controversial private jet travel


Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s trips around the country on government-funded private jets included a visit to the vacation island where he has property and a lunch with his son, according to a report.

Federal investigators are currently looking at the former Georgia congressman’s travel, with questions raised about how much pleasure he may have mixed in with official business.

POLITICO first reported last week that Price had broken with precedent by forgoing commercial flights on many occasions and spending more than $300,000 in taxpayer funds for jets.

The outlet reported Tuesday that he also flew on a taxpayer-funded jet in June to Nashville, where he went on a tour of a medication dispensary for an hour and gave a 20-minute speech at a health summit.

Leaders at the health summit, organized by a doctor who described Price as his mentor, said that the visit was a surprise the day of the event.

POLITICO reported that Price also managed to have lunch with his musician son in the three hours between his two events.

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Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tom Price (L) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney (r) speak to reporters after the Congressional Budget Office released its score on proposed Republican health care legislation at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price addresses the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 7, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price (C) and Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini (R) listen to U.S. President Donald Trump speak during a meeting with health insurance company CEOs at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) testifies before a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) and Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tom Price (C) meet with representatives of conservative political groups, including American Conservative Union Chairman Matthew Schlapp (R), to discuss their plans for repealing and replacing ObamaCare in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 10, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Rep. Tom Price gets into an elevator at Trump Tower, November 16, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet positions for the new administration.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (C) and Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tom Price (R) attend a cabinet meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) hands the pen to Representative Tom Price (R-GA) after signing a bill repealing Obamacare at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 7, 2016. The U.S. Congress on Wednesday approved legislation dismantling President Barack Obama's signature health care plan, putting on his desk an election-year measure that faces a certain veto.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Chairman of the House Budget Committee Tom Price (R-GA) announces the House Budget during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 17, 2015.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price (L) takes to the podium to address the daily press briefing as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (R) steps aside at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 7, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Rep. Tom Price arrives at Trump Tower, November 16, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet positions for the new administration.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) (L) is welcomed by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) prior to testifying before a confirmation hearing on his nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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Price also owns a condo in the Music City, though it is unclear who lives there.

Federal rules say that officials should fly commercial unless there are extraordinary circumstances, and the report found multiple commercial options both for the Tennessee trip and another to Price’s home state.

He reportedly used another private jet to fly to the Georgia coast and give a speech on the vacation hot spot St. Simons Island, where he also owns undeveloped land, to two medical groups that he has worked with previously.

Price flew to an airport near the island from an event in North Carolina on August 4, with more than 40 hours between his arrival and his speech on Sunday August 6.

The Department of Health and Human Services has previously said that, despite previous secretaries getting by with commercial, Price needs the private flights for his “demanding schedule.”

“Some believe the HHS Secretary should be Washington-focused. Dr. Price is focused on hearing from Americans across the country,” a statement from spokeswoman Charmaine Yoest said last week.

But some have raised questions about what taxpayer money is being used for.

“We are to assume none of this travel was personal. Right? If any of it was all or in part personal he is in deep …” Richard Painter, the chief White House ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, posted on Twitter Tuesday.

"So it was personal travel. He needs to go," Painer posted after the POLITICO report.

Price has said that he will stop flying on private plans during an internal review by his department’s inspector general.

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