Details about Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s travel expenses have been revealed, and things are looking pretty pricey for taxpayers.
The EPA chief, who frequently uses business-class and first-class travel, has spent a considerable amount of money on trips since he began working in the Trump administration, according to documents obtained by the advocacy group Environmental Integrity Project under the Freedom of Information Act.
The headlines alone paint a grim picture: The Daily Beast reported that Pruitt has spent $105,000 on first class flights since taking on his EPA role. The Associated Press pointed out that his trip to Italy last summer cost more than $120,000 in taxpayer money. The trip, which occurred from June 5-12, included a meeting of G-7 ministers and a private tour of the Vatican. Pruitt’s security detail during the trip cost more than $30,000, The Washington Post noted.
The EPA told the AP the security precautions during Pruitt’s Italy trip were consistent with those of previous administrators. When it comes to Pruitt’s habitual use of first- and business-class air travel, the EPA has said he does so as a security precaution. The administrator is regularly confronted by angry members of the public while traveling, Politico reported in February.
According to documents the EPA sent to the House Oversight Committee investigating government travel on Tuesday, Pruitt “has had significantly more threats directed against him.” As a result, Pruitt’s security detail “shifted his class based on certain security protocols that require him to be near the front of the plane.”
The inquiry into Pruitt’s travel comes after The Washington Post reported in February about his preference for first-class travel as the administrator of the EPA. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) asked the EPA to provide documentation on Pruitt’s travel expenses, noting that a waiver is required each time a government official wants to fly business or first class. Government officials are supposed to fly coach, something Pruitt told CBS News after the Post report he would be doing more often.