WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- An internal probe has been opened into Health Secretary Tom Price over his private jet travel on official government business.
The Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said on Friday it is investigating the private jet travel of the agency's chief Price, who flew on a total of 24 private flights since early May including five domestic flights last week.
The travel, which is estimated to cost U.S. taxpayers' tens of thousands of dollars per flight, has drawn widespread criticism from Democratic lawmakers.
The chartered jets did not explicitly violate government regulations, but that past health secretaries have typically flown commercially, especially when travelling domestically, according to a The Politico report.
"The Office of Inspector General] is conducting a review of Secretary Price's federal travel using chartered aircraft. A statement issued Friday from Tesia Williams, a spokesperson for HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson said.
"The review focuses on whether the travel complied with Federal Travel Regulations, but may encompass other issues related to the travel," said the statement.
Price has frequently criticized government waste since his appointment as health secretary and during his tenure in the House of Representatives, where he once chaired the House Budget Committee, according to an ABC news report.
One day earlier, Democratic ranking members of five congressional committees sent a letter to Levinson to request a review of Price's observance of departmental rules.
The news came one week after Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin faced an inquiry by the Treasury Department's inspector general over a request to use a government airplane to travel to his European honeymoon this summer. Mnuchin's official trip to Kentucky during August's solar eclipse is also being reviewed.
Mnuchin dropped the honeymoon travel request but later defended it as in the interest of "national security" so he would have a secure line of communication.