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Oversight Dem demands info on Conway's private flights with Tom Price

The Hill logo The Hill 3/13/2018 Nathaniel Weixel
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White House counselor Kellyanne Conway flew on several of the same private flights as former Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price, but has yet to reimburse the federal government for her share of the costs, House Democrats revealed Tuesday.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, accused the White House of stonewalling his investigation into how much the flights cost, and called on the panel's chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) to issue a subpoena.

"The White House has completely stonewalled our requests for documents," Cummings said in a letter to Gowdy. "If you do not issue a subpoena at this point, it will be obvious to the White House and the American people that the Committee has no intention of serving as a true check on the Executive Branch."

Price resigned Sept. 29 after an investigation by Politico found that his use of military flights and private jets has cost taxpayers more than $1 million.

He held the job for less than 10 months, but in that time he traveled to Asia, Africa and Europe on official business aboard military aircraft, the investigation found. His wife Betty, a physician and Georgia state representative, accompanied him on those trips as an adviser.

The military aircraft trips were approved by the White House.

Conway is leading the White House efforts to combat the opioid crisis. According to documents reviewed by Cummings, Conway accompanied Price on several trips last spring and summer relating to the administration's opioid response that included stops in Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Cummings said that Conway and "several staff" accompanied Price on flights May 9 and May 10. The total cost of those flights for all passengers was $44,531.45.

On July 6, Price and Conway also traveled roundtrip from Washington, D.C., to Chattanooga, Tenn. The total cost of these flights for all passengers was $14,569.90. Cummings said the pair flew together again in mid-September to Philadelphia, but the cost was not reported to the committee.

Cummings has repeatedly asked the White House for information about Conway's presence on the flights ever since the committee's investigation began last fall.

"To date, the White House has refused to provide any documents at all, including those relating to Ms. Conway's participation in these trips, whether she intends to repay the taxpayers for the cost of her travel, or whether the President is considering any disciplinary action against her in light of his decision to fire Secretary Price for participating in the same trips," Cummings wrote.

The Hill reported in December that Price sent three separate checks to the U.S. Treasury on Sept. 28 for a total of nearly $60,000.

A check for $1,489 was written to cover Price's wife's seat on a trip to Asia, while a check for $6,013.66 was written to cover her seat on a trip to Africa. Price also wrote a $51,887.31 check for his share of the domestic flights aboard a chartered jet.

Price's travel expenditures are the subject of an ongoing investigation by the HHS Office of Inspector General.

Cummings noted that Conway has been cited "repeatedly" for multiple ethics violations at the White House, including as recently as last week.

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