Fri, Jun 16, 2006
Accused Of Using Plane To Stump For President
US Health and Human Services
Secretary Mike Leavitt (right) is the latest government official to
raise eyebrows in Congress over his use of a government
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Leavitt, the former
Republican governor of Utah, used the leased aircraft to promote
the new Medicare "Part D" drug plan... and not for its intended
role of helping scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention to respond to emergencies.
The paper claims those trips on the have cost more than $700,000
since January... and, at least two occurred when agency scientists
might have used the plane for emergencies.
Leavitt was grilled about the flights Wednesday before the House
Ways and Means Committee... and while he maintained there's
"nothing political" about the flights, he faced accusations from
two Democrat representatives, Democrats Pete Stark of California
and John Lewis of Georgia, who claimed Leavitt used the plane to
stump for the Bush administration policies.
"It's bad enough you had buses. It is disgraceful," said Lewis.
"It is a waste of resources."
Leavitt told the committee the flights were justified, as some
of his travel on the CDC plane was related to US preparations for
the threat of a global pandemic of avian influenza.
Florida Republican Clay Shaw defended Leavitt's use of the
"I think it's a good thing and I encourage you to keep it up,"
he told Leavitt, adding it was "hypocritical" for members of
Congress to criticize his use of government aircraft when lawmakers
use them to visit other nations.
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