What was the Accusation?
In September 2017, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price came under intense scrutiny after information surfaced that he had taken at least 24 flights on private charter planes at the taxpayer’s expense. One flight from Washington D.C. to Nashville, according to a Politico article, should have cost Price $202, yet his chartered flight cost $17,760. In total, Price was estimated to have cost the taxpayers $400,000 over a six month period. Once he realized the extent of the public outrage and soon after President Donald Trump’s remarks that he was “not happy” with Price, the Secretary released a public statement indicating that he would pay back the $51,887.31 that his own individual flights had cost. He did not offer to pay for the expenses of his staff. Price pointed out that his travel was all approved “by legal and HHS officials,” but that he regretted the concerns that the incident raised regarding taxpayer dollars.
Key Apologia Strategies:
Bolstering, Shifting Blame, Corrective Action
“I continue to welcome and am cooperating fully with the Office of Inspector General (OIG) review of processes and procedures related to my official travel as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). I have also taken the additional step of initiating a departmental review to determine if any changes or reforms are necessary. As I have previously stated, all of this travel was approved by legal and HHS officials.
Despite this, I regret the concerns this has raised regarding the use of taxpayer dollars. All of my political career I€™ve fought for the taxpayers. It is clear to me that in this case, I was not sensitive enough to my concern for the taxpayer. I know as well as anyone that the American people want to know that their hard-earned dollars are being spent wisely by government officials.
To make sure everyone knows that I understand and appreciate this, and to make sure everyone knows that this will never happen again, I am taking the following steps:
My staff and I will continue to cooperate fully with the OIG and internal review.
I will take no more private charter flights as Secretary of HHS. No exceptions.
Today, I will write a personal check to the US Treasury for the expenses of my travel on private charter planes. The taxpayers won€™t pay a dime for my seat on those planes.
I have spent forty years both as a doctor and in public service putting people first. It has been my personal honor to serve the American people, and I look forward to continuing that service.”
Eilperin, J. (2017, September 28). Tom Price apologizes for private-charter flights, pledges to repay taxpayers nearly $52,000. Washington Post. Retrieved from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/09/28/tom-price-apologizes-for-private-charter-flights/?utm_term=.315bd921e3b4
Jacobs, B. (2017, September 28). Health secretary Tom Price apologizes for taking private flights for work. The Guardian. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/sep/28/tom-price-health-secretary-private-flights-apology
Pradhan, R., & Diamond, D. (2017, September 21). Price traveled by private plane at least 24 times. Politico. Retrieved from: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/21/tom-price-private-charter-plane-flights-242989
Statement of HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D, regarding private charter airplane travel. (2017, September 28). Department of Health and Human Services Website. Retrieved from: https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2017/09/28/hhs-secretary-price-statement-on-private-charter-airplane-travel.html