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Democrats say Price paid Treasury for use of private jets

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Democrats said Tuesday that former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price paid the U.S. Treasury nearly $60,000 to reimburse the federal government for his use of private jets as a cabinet secretary, but they raised new questions about costs associated with White House aide Kellyanne Conway’s air travel.

Price, who was forced out of the administration last fall over the private air travel scandal, made three separate payments to the Treasury related to travel expenses, the Treasury said in a November letter to leaders of the House Oversight Committee released by Democrats.

Price's payments amounted to just a fraction of the $400,000 Politico first estimated was spent on as many as 26 chartered flights for Price while he served in the administration. He had previously said he would reimburse the government for the cost of his seat alone.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said Tuesday that Conway accompanied Price on four trips, costing taxpayers “tens of thousands of additional dollars” in airfare, citing HHS documents reviewed by committee staff.

The Maryland Democrat first raised questions about Conway’s travel last fall.

In a letter sent to House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., Tuesday, Cummings said that the White House “has refused to provide any documents” pertaining to Conway, and has not revealed whether she plans to repay taxpayers or has been disciplined by President Donald Trump.

The White House dismissed Cummings’ comments, but did not say if Conway would reimburse the government.

“This partisan attack on Kellyanne is ridiculous. Members of the President’s Cabinet invite relevant White House staff for official travel to events advancing the President’s agenda. When White House staff accompany Cabinet Members their travel plans are arranged, secured and financed by the inviting agency,” White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement.

Democrats plan to seek votes on 13 subpoena requests at the committee’s markup on Thursday and have accused the White House and administration of withholding information and testimony on a range of issues, from the security clearance process at the White House, to the federal response to several hurricanes over the summer.

A spokesperson for Gowdy did not immediately return a request for comment.

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