Price says he's reimbursing costs for his private flights (copy)

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price speaks during a National Foundation for Infectious Diseases news conference Sept. 28 in Washington.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

Chuck Grassley is consistently conservative — something we appreciate.

The longtime Republican senator from Iowa doesn’t seem to care whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat involved in fleecing the American people. When there’s waste, fraud or abuse involved, Grassley demands answers.

That’s a far cry from the conservatives in the Trump administration who apparently thought chartering planes or flying on military jets at taxpayer expense is truly serving the public.

Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, is asking the Trump administration to ban such flights.

He wants to know “what steps the administration has taken to ensure that Cabinet secretaries use the most fiscally responsible travel in accordance with the public trust they hold and the spirit and the letter of all laws, regulations, and policies that apply.”

And now Tom Price’s belief that there’s only one way to fly in style has cost him his job. President Donald Trump’s health secretary resigned Friday, after his costly travel triggered investigations that overshadowed the administration’s agenda and angered his boss. Price’s regrets and partial repayment couldn’t save his job.

Let that be a wake-up call to budget-cutting Cabinet members who think it’s just fine to waste tens of thousands of dollars because they’d like to spend the night at home, take a trip to the Virgin Islands or have a private flight for a honeymoon — citing the need for secure communications, no doubt.

According to Politico, Price had taken at least 26 charter flights — many of them between big cities that were connected by dozens of low-cost commercial flights — at a cost to taxpayers of more than $400,000. That’s nearly half a million dollars in just eight months. Price made a big show of reimbursing the federal taxpayers more than $51,000 for his seat on private jets. But what about the other seats — for staff and for security?

And what did his spokesperson say about it?

“This is Secretary Price, getting outside of D.C., making sure he is connected with the real American people,” said Charmaine Yoest, his assistant secretary for public affairs.

Gosh, we’re honored that a Cabinet secretary would go to such trouble to get outside of D.C. at an exorbitant cost to let us know how much he cares.

Government auditors also are looking at the travel charged to taxpayers by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

With all the talk about cutting entitlements, we have Cabinet members who believe they’re entitled to fly in style at a much higher cost to taxpayers.

Let’s hope Grassley’s continued attention can help end this wasteful practice. Soaking taxpayers in the name of public service is shameful.