United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, has resigned following revelations that he had taken expensive private jet travel at the taxpayer’s expense to conduct official business.
Mr Price was already in hot water for Republicans’ several failed attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act. But his job as head of the administration’s Health and Human Services department began to be threatened following a slew of reports about his extensive use of charter aircraft.
He offered his resignation on Friday and the President accepted, a statement from Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read.
On Thursday, Price cut a check for the costs he incurred. But he had chosen only to pay for the price of his seats on the plane (just under $52,000) and not the total cost of the trips themselves (which exceeded $1 million).
In a copy of his resignation letter posted to Twitter, Price thanked Trump for the “opportunity to serve the American people”.
“I have spent 40 years both as a doctor and public servant putting people first,” he wrote. “I regret that the recent events have created a distraction from those important objectives.”
“You may be rest assured that I will continue to support your critical priorities going ahead because failure is not an option for the American people,” he added.
According to the Guardian, Price’s tenure was also damaged by his inability to shepherd the process of repealing and replacing Obamacare.
He had championed repeal legislation when he served in the House of Representatives. But he was notably distant from the debate while at HHS—an absence that reportedly irritated President Trump.
“The President intends to designate Don J. Wright of Virginia to serve as Acting Secretary, effective at 11:59 p.m. on September 29, 2017. Mr. Wright currently serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health and Director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.” a statement reads.
According to Politico, Mr Price racked up at least $400,000 in travel bills for chartered flights, undermining Mr Trump’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp”.
Mr Trump reportedly feared these revelations undercut his promise to expel everything his supporters hated about Washington: lobbying, corruption and entitled bureaucrats.
On Thursday, Mr Price had apparently tried to defuse the President’s anger by agreeing to reimburse the government $51,887 for his past use of private jets. However, that didn’t appear to work.