The beleaguered head of the Environmental Protection Agency has been burning through taxpayer money like an SUV guzzles gas, new documents show.
Scott Pruitt spent more than $ 120,000 in public funds for a trip to Italy – and has spent more than $ 105,000 on first-class airfare alone since February 2017.
Pruitt’s eye-popping Italy expenses — paid for by hard-working Americans — included $ 30,500 for his security detail and $ 90,000 for food, hotels, commercial airfare and a military jet.
Pruitt traveled to Europe last summer for a meeting with environmental ministers from the Group of 7, a set of global economic powers that include Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, and the UK.
“That’s a lot of money for Mr. Pruitt to tour the Vatican, pose for photos, and tell his European counterparts that global warming doesn’t matter,” said Eric Schaeffer, director of the Environmental Integrity Project non-profit watchdog group. “And it doesn’t even include salary costs for everyone who signed up for this tour.”
The EPA divulged the full cost of the trip after Schaeffer’s group filed a public records request citing concerns over Pruitt’s spending.
The agency had previously released documents pegging the cost of the trip at $ 53,000, but the paperwork omitted Pruitt’s round-the-clock security detail.
Pruitt is the first EPA chief to enlist a 24-7 security team. He has also raised eyebrows for other security precautions, including a $ 43,000 soundproof “privacy booth” in his office to prevent eavesdropping.
Additional documents released Tuesday showed that Pruitt’s six-figure first-class airfare travel included a $ 16,217 trip in December to Morocco, where he was promoting American liquefied natural gas exports to the nation’s leaders, Politico reported.
The documents, provided to House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), do not include military travel.
The EPA’s Office of Inspector General has already launched a probe into Pruitt’s 2017 travel costs.
EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox defended his boss’ penchant for first-class flying. “EPA’s Protective Service Detail identified specific ongoing threats associated with Administrator Pruitt’s travel and shifted his class based on certain security protocols that require him to be near the front of the plane,” Wilcox said.
As for the Italy trip, Wilcox said Pruitt’s security precautions were no different than his European counterparts.
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