Kellyanne Conway cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars with trips on private jets

Kellyanne Conway traveled at least four times at taxpayer expense with former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price — and congressional Democrats want an explanation.

Price resigned Sept. 29 over his use of taxpayer-funded private jets during his seven months in office, and he has repaid a fraction so far of his travel expenses, according to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee.

The Department of Treasury has received three checks from Price, who now works as an adviser for Jackson Healthcare, totaling $59,389.97 as reimbursement, according to Cummings.

HHS documents confirm Conway, the former Trump campaign manager and now a senior White House adviser, traveled along with Price at least four times between May and September at a cost to taxpayers of tens of thousands of dollars.

Conway was joined on at least one of those flights by her staff, and she and Price also traveled with other unspecified White House officials.

The cost of those flights to taxpayers was at least $59,101.35, according to Cummings.

Other travel expenses were not provided to the committee.

[Raw Story]

Reporter Arrested After Repeatedly Questioning Health Secretary

Dan Heyman, a reporter for Public News Service, said he was arrested at the West Virginia State Capitol after trying to ask Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price a question about the House-passed healthcare bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare as the secretary was entering the building.

In a press conference held shortly after posting bail, Heyman said he asked Price repeatedly about whether domestic violence is considered a pre-existing condition under the new GOP healthcare bill.

According to Heyman’s account, he waited for Price to come into the building and then reached past those accompanying Price with his phone and repeatedly asked his healthcare question, adding that a number of other reporters wanted to bring up the issue of pre-existing conditions.

He said capitol police at some point “decided I was just too persistent in asking this question and trying to do my job and so they arrested me.”

The event concluded with a press conference at the end of Price’s visit, which Heyman reportedly could have attended but did not.

According to the criminal complaint by the capitol police, Heyman was “aggressively breaching the secret service agents to the point where the agents were forced to remove him a couple of times from the area walking up the hallway in the main building of the Capitol. The defendant was causing a disturbance by yelling at Ms. Conway and Secretary Price.”

The officer who filed the report said he and another officer “were able to detain the defendant before he tried aggressively to breach the security of the secret service.”

“As the criminal complaint explains, this is not about someone trying to ask questions,” said Lawrence Messina, the director of communication for West Virginia’s Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, which oversees the capitol police.

“The individual repeatedly tried to push his way past secret service agents who were providing for the safety and security for an event at the state capitol. There were other reporters present who asked questions without incident,” Messina continued.

Heyman said he couldn’t remember how many times he asked the question, but he added that it is his job to ask questions, expressing disbelief that he was arrested.

“First time I’ve ever been arrested for asking a question. First time I’ve ever heard of someone getting arrested for asking a question,” he said.

Heyman said he asked his question in a public space and received no warnings that he was in the wrong place or doing other activities to warrant his arrest.

“No police officer told me, ‘You’re in the wrong place,’ ” he said.

The police “put hands on me, although they didn’t hurt me, certainly,” he added.

Heyman asked them if he was under arrest, according to his version of events, and they said he was. He also said he told the police he was a member of the press.

The police didn’t immediately read him his Miranda Rights, he added, because they were not asking him questions.

“It’s dreadful. This is my job, this is what I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to find out if someone is going to be affected by this healthcare law. … I think it is a question that deserves to be answered,” he added.

Heyman had to pay a $5,000 bond and was charged with willful disruption of governmental processes, a misdemeanor.

(h/t The Hill)



Tom Price Says States Can Pass Anti-Vaccination Laws

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, a licensed physician, argued Wednesday that vaccinating children should be a matter best handled by the states, and not dictated by federal guidelines.

Price’s comments, made during a CNN Town Hall on the Affordable Care Act, has fueled concerns that he shares some of the president’s sympathies for those who link childhood vaccinations with autism. This idea has been forcefully discredited by a wide body of scientific research, and the so-called anti-vaxx movement is credited with the return of once-eradicated diseases like measles, mumps, and whooping cough, not to mention the spread of preventable disease like the HPV virus.

The federal government does not currently mandate vaccination policy. However, Price does have the authority to revoke current guidelines and policies set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is under his jurisdiction. Currently the CDC recommends vaccinations for children. Those policies hold significant sway over state law.

Price also supports the Republican Obamacare replacement plan which contains a provision that would slash half the funding for the federal vaccines program. The Section 317 Vaccination program is critical to staying on top of immunizations and disease outbreaks nationwide.

Denise Edwards from Michigan asked Price whether he believed Americans, when deciding on a healthcare plan, should be penalized for eschewing immunizations “for ethical or religious reasons.”

“You ought to be able to select the plan that matches your needs instead of the federal government telling you, ‘This is what you’ve got to buy,’” Price responded.

Co-host Wolf Blitzer interrupted and pressed Price on the matter.

“Dr. Price, you’re a physician,” Blitzer said. “You believe in immunizations; you believe all children should get a shot for polio and other diseases.”

“It’s a perfectly appropriate role for government — this happens by and large at the state government level… to determine whether or not immunizations are required for a community population,” Price said. “Whether it’s growing kids or the like, or, if its an outbreak of a particular infectious disease, whether immunization ought to be required or be able to be utilized.”

Price’s comments are seemingly a departure from the position he took during his Senate confirmation hearing in January. New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez asked Price whether he agreed with Trump that vaccines cause autism.

“I think the science in that instance is that it does not,” Price said. He also promised senators that he would “make certain that factual informing is conveyed to Congress and the president and the American people” on the issue of vaccinations.

In January, during the transition period, Trump met with Robert F. Kennedy, a leading proponent of the anti-vaccination conspiracy theory. Kennedy told reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower after the meeting that the then-president-elect had asked him to chair a special commission on vaccination safety. The purpose of the commission, he said, would be to ensure “scientific integrity in the vaccine process for efficacy and safety effects.”

(h/t Vice News)


Tom Price belongs to a truly radical medical organization known as the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

The AAPS organization stands at direct odds, in myriad ways, with some of very foundational beliefs of evidence-based modern public-health research.

From ScienceBlogs:

Perhaps [Price] was so attracted to the AAPS vision of doctors as special and “outside of the herd” to the point that he ignored its simultaneous promotion of dangerous medical quackery, such as antivaccine pseudoscience blaming vaccines for autism, including a view that is extreme even among antivaccine activists, namely that the “shaken baby syndrome” is a “misdiagnosis” for vaccine injury; its HIV/AIDS denialism; its blaming immigrants for crime and disease; its promotion of the pseudoscience claiming that abortion causes breast cancer using some of the most execrable “science” ever; its rejection of evidence-based guidelines as an unacceptable affront on the godlike autonomy of physicians; or the way the AAPS rejects even the concept of a scientific consensus about anything. Let’s just put it this way. The AAPS has featured publications by antivaccine mercury militia “scientists” Mark and David Geier. Even so, the very fact that Price was attracted enough to this organization and liked it enough to actually join it should raise a number of red flags. It certainly did with me, because I know the AAPS all too well.