Questions Arise About Kellyanne Conway's Private-Jet Travels

Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images.
Kellyanne Conway's travels have gotten her in hot water with the top Democrat in the House Oversight Committee. The Trump loyalist and presidential counselor took multiple private-jet flights with former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who resigned last week in the midst of a scandal over his frequent use of expensive non-commercial flights for official business.
On Tuesday, Rep. Elijah Cummings sent a letter to the White House asking Conway to provide all documents related to "all private, non-commercial, or military flights" she has taken since she joined the Trump administration in January. He gave her until October 18 to turn over the documents.
Between May and September, Conway traveled with Price on charter planes to several states on trips related to the White House's efforts to fight the opioid epidemic. While Price apologized for his frequent use of private jets on the taxpayers' dime when less-expensive commercial options were available, Conway has remained silent. In his letter, Rep. Cummings asked her to explain why she has used private flights and whether she plans to reimburse taxpayers, like Price said he will partially do. (Politico reports Price spent close to $400,000 on charter jets this summer, but will only repay for his seat on each of those flights — or about $52,000.)
Last week, the House Oversight Committee sent a letter to 24 federal agencies and the White House seeking details on senior officials' trips. And while Cummings may have his sights set on Conway's travels, she is far from being the only person other than Price who has used private jets when commercial options were available at a fraction of the cost. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt have also come under scrutiny over their trips.
In another time, the fact that senior officials are frequently using private flights instead of commercial ones would have been a massive scandal. After all, U.S. taxpayers "should pay no more than necessary" for the transportation of government officials, according to federal guidelines. In practice, this has meant that officials should stick to commercial — except in extraordinary circumstances that can been justified to taxpayers. But this administration seems happy to overlook the rules and conventions of the federal government — even when it means imposing an additional financial burden on the people it's supposed to be serving.
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produced by Brianna Donnelly; edited by Sam Russell.

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