When 2002 College graduate Dan Diamond first heard that former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price had been using private jets to travel, he couldn't imagine it would lead to Price’s resignation.
But when his Politico coworker Rachana Pradhan told Diamond about the tip, he “knew right away” that the story was important.
“I remember the night that [Pradhan] told me, and it felt like an enormous story if we could only prove it,” Diamond said.
Using a private jet for government travel would be allowed “only when commercial options aren’t available,” according to a Politico article written by Diamond and Pradhan about the story.
Diamond and Pradhan needed to catch Price while he was either entering or exiting a private aircraft to verify the tip, which Pradhan received in May. They spent hours tracking flight patterns and matching them against Price’s itinerary, attempting to pin down exact flights Price had made.
After that, they had to put in about 1000 hours of work into catching Price red-handed, a task that they said was often frustrating because of the lack of information made public by HHS. Diamond and Pradhan ended their investigation by conducting “incredibly nerve-wracking” stakeouts at airports in an attempt to spot Price entering or exiting a private jet.
“Catching him getting off the plane was probably the most crucial part of the reporting,” Diamond said.
When the two reporters got proof of Price using the private planes, the story gained national attention. Public officials began to speak out against Price, some even calling for his resignation.
Price resigned on Sept. 29, just 10 days after Diamond and Pradhan’s first article on Price’s costly behavior was published. A followup article on Sept. 21 by the duo found that Price's private flights cost taxpayers over $300,000.
In Price’s resignation letter, he wrote that he “spent forty years as both a doctor and a public servant putting people first,” adding, “I regret that the recent events have created a distraction from these important objectives.”
Reflecting back on the months of work that went into the story, Diamond said he thinks Penn prepared him well for the many failures he faced while tracking down proof of Price exiting a private jet.
Diamond believes that it was his time at Penn that taught him consistent failure should not paralyze progress.
“Penn taught me to be okay with failure,” he said.
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