Cummings Calls on Gowdy to Subpoena White House After New IG Report Finds Price Squandered Taxpayer Funds on Private Flights
Washington, D.C. (July 13, 2018)—Today, the Inspector General Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a new report concluding that former Secretary Tom Price wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars traveling around the country on private chartered flights. The report found:
“Of the 21 trips related to former Secretary Price’s travel, we determined that for one trip all applicable Federal requirements had been followed. The remaining 20 trips did not comply with Federal requirements, including all 12 chartered aircraft trips. Specifically, we found instances of noncompliance related to some of the travel authorizations and travel vouchers for former Secretary Price and certain HHS travelers accompanying him on the trips. In addition, we noted that the amount repaid by former Secretary Price did not include the cost of his wife’s seat on one chartered flight. Overall, we determined that the use of chartered aircraft and identified noncompliance issues resulted in waste of Federal funds totaling at least $341,000.”
In response to today’s report, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued the following statement calling on Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy to issue a subpoena to the White House for documents it has been withholding from the Committee on this matter since last September in response to a bipartisan request:
“This new Inspector General report shows that Secretary Price abused his position of trust by squandering hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on private luxury flights for himself and his family members. I commend the Inspector General’s work, but the Oversight Committee has been derelict in its duty to conduct our own credible oversight of the Trump Administration, allowing the White House to completely disregard our requests. It is time for the Committee to subpoena the White House for the documents it has been withholding from us since last September—particularly those relating to Kellyanne Conway, who reportedly traveled on some of the very same wasteful flights as Secretary Price.”
On September 26, 2017, Cummings sent a bipartisan letter with Gowdy, who agreed to ask the White House, HHS, and other agencies to produce documents relating to private chartered flights. When they failed to produce the requested documents, Cummings and Gowdy sent bipartisan follow-up requests.
The White House sent three letters in response—October 10, 2017, November 3, 2017, and December 4, 2017—refusing to provide any documents and offering a series of inexplicable excuses: suggesting that some offices within the Executive Office of the President do not report to the Chief of Staff, directing the Committee to the National Archives and Records Administration, and insisting that the Committee seek documents instead from only those White House offices that are required to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and the Federal Records Act.
On March 13, 2018, Cummings sent a letter asking Gowdy to issue a subpoena for documents the White House has been withholding, but Gowdy disregarded the request. Republicans then blocked Democratic efforts to obtain a vote on this subpoena motion during a Committee business meeting on May 23, 2018.
To date, the Oversight Committee has issued no subpoenas to the Trump Administration or any other party under Gowdy’s tenure as Chairman.