Tom Price resigns as HHS secretary; President Trump taps Don J. Wright as acting replacement

Tom Price speaking
Although Price released a statement Thursday saying he would repay the cost of his seats on the private flights, he resigned Friday in the wake of outrage over the excess spending. (Mark Taylor/CC BY 2.0)

HHS Secretary Tom Price has resigned following days of controversy related to his use of private planes for travel.

President Donald Trump offered Price the chance to resign earlier Friday and he accepted the offer, the White House announced Friday evening. Trump will name Don J. Wright, the acting assistant secretary for health, to serve as acting secretary.

In his letter of resignation to Trump, Price said he regretted that the controversy "created a distraction" from the administration's objectives.

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Trump told reporters on the White House lawn Friday evening that he would make a decision related to Price later that day and called Price "a very good man."

RELATED: Tom Price draws ire for travel on private jets; HHS' Charmaine Yoest explains he has a 'demanding schedule'

Earlier this week, it came out that Price had taken more than 24 private flights since he took over at the Department of Health and Human Services in May, costing taxpayers as much as $400,000. HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Charmaine Yoest said the private flights were booked because of Price's demanding schedule.

Two investigations into Price's travel spending launched this week: one through the HHS Office of Inspector General and one from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Democrats in the House called on Price to resign.

RELATED: Tom Price says he will repay the U.S. Treasury for the cost of his seats on private flights

Price released a statement Thursday saying he would repay the cost of his seats on the flights. He said he would write a personal check worth about $52,000 to reimburse the U.S. Treasury. It isn't clear whether Price still plans to pay that reimbursement after his resignation

The news about Price's use of chartered planes came as the secretary sought to "reimagine" HHS and make significant cost cuts. The number of times he took private planes stood in contrast to his predecessors, who would typically fly commercial.

Former secretary Kathleen Sebelius said this week that she only took a chartered plane once, and that it was a propeller plane to reach three villages that were not accessible by road or commercial airplane. Meanwhile, Price's trips since May included speaking engagements and conferences to states a short distance from the District of Columbia.

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