Scott Pruitt Offers a Laughable Explanation For Why He's Flying First Class on Taxpayers' Dime

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been secretive about his schedule and the travel bills he’s been racking up at great taxpayer expense. From Politico:

PA on Wednesday retracted its claim that Administrator Scott Pruitt has received a “blanket waiver” to fly first class whenever he travels, after Politico pointed officials to federal travel rules that appeared to bar such arrangements.

Pruitt has been routinely flying first class at taxpayers’ expense after securing what EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox had described as "blanket waiver,” Politico reported Tuesday. But the General Services Administration says federal rules require agencies’ oversight staffers to sign off on officials’ first- or business-class travel "on a trip-by-trip basis ... unless the traveler has an up-to-date documented disability or special need.”

Wilcox changed his explanation after Politico pointed out that section of the regulations. GSA does allow first-class travel for security reasons, but only if agencies request a waiver for each trip.

"As such, for every trip Administrator Pruitt submits a waiver to fly in either first or business class," Wilcox said, amending the agency's earlier statement, which yielded criticism from Republican lawmakers and led Democrats to request an inspector general investigation.

So, it was a “blanket waiver” and then it wasn’t? Pruitt also got a waiver to fly in the lap of luxury on a trip to Italy. From CBS News:

In early June, Pruitt traveled to Italy for meetings at the Vatican and to attend a summit with international energy ministers. Taxpayers picked up the tab for his round-trip business-class flight, which cost at least $7,000, several times the cost of what was paid for other staffers who accompanied him on the trip.

CBS News has learned that when Pruitt returned home from Milan on June 11, he flew on Emirates Airlines, whose business class cabins are some of the world's most luxurious, complete with an onboard lounge that promises what the airline calls a "truly unique journey."

To take the flight, Pruitt needed special dispensation. Government officials are bound by the Fly America Act, which requires them to "use U.S. air carrier service for all air travel… funded by the U.S. government."

It’s one special waiver after another, at huge expense to taxpayers, for a man who is systemically dismantling the policies of the EPA, policies meant to protect the general public from polluted air and poisoned water. It’s been one big giveaway after another to mega-corporations, putting the general public at increased health risk for the future. So, how does he justify all of this fancy schmancy champagne and caviar service at our expense? 

“He was approached in the airport numerous times, to the point of profanities being yelled at him and so forth,” Henry Barnet, director of the agency's Office of Criminal Enforcement, told Politico.

“The team leader felt that he was being placed in a situation where he was unsafe on the flight,” said Barnet, a career employee and longtime law enforcement official who joined EPA in 2011.

EPA offered the explanation after five days of controversy over Pruitt's travel that started with a Washington Post report that he and EPA staff had racked up more than $90,000 in travel in early June.

What has Pruitt so spooked that he has to have a 30-person security team with round-the-clock protection and simply, positively has to be booked in the most expensive travel seats possible? 

As an example, Barnet recounted on incident from October at the airport in Atlanta. An individual approached Pruitt with his cell phone recording, yelling at him “‘Scott Pruitt, you’re f---ing up the environment,’ those sort of terms,” Barnet said.

Unbelievable. And they call liberals “snowflakes”? Here’s an idea for Scott Pruitt and Republicans like him—maybe just stop acting like jerks and enacting policy after policy to harm people and the environment? Maybe, as the man at the airport said, stop fucking up the environment? 

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