Helping America's poor, aged and sick is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' reason for being, but hundreds of its top officials are traveling in style and luxury at taxpayer expense.
Records obtained by the Washington Examiner under the Freedom of Information Act show that HHS executives spent $31 million taking 7,000 first class and business class flights between 2009 and 2013, including 253 trips for which a one-way ticket cost more than $15,000.
Half the records listed the price of a coach ticket for comparison. For that portion alone, the upgrade boosted the cost by almost $14 million, from $4.9 million to $18.5 million.
Federal employees are allowed to fly business or first class if the flight is longer than 14 hours, but only 1,400 of the 7,000 flights met that description.