The surgeon Tom Price rose to power with a message that the federal government was incompetent, corrupt, and hypocritical.
In his case, he may have been on to something. Price—who gained prominence in politics as a vocal opponent of government spending—resigned on Friday from his position as secretary of Health and Human Services after spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on private jets while touring the country to champion cuts to medical-research funding, preventive-medicine programs, and insurance programs for children and elderly Americans.
The instances of jet flight were not few, but numbered at least 26 since May, Politico reported last week. The estimated cost of his travel was reportedly more than $400,000. This was in addition to $500,000 in expenses from taking military jets to Europe and Asia, another unprecedented expenditure. Previous secretaries, while championing health equity, flew almost exclusively on commercial airlines.
Price was an orthopedic surgeon in the Atlanta area until hanging up his bone saw in 1996. He later took the helm of the Tea Party movement as a leading critic of President Obama. He supported Donald Trump’s candidacy even as it diverged from the objectives of public health and was among the Trump appointees who had called for the elimination or radical downsizing of the agencies they would come to lead.