by Countable | 3.1.18
UPDATE: March 1, 2018: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has announced he will only fly coach in the future.
Pruitt had faced harsh criticism for flying business or first class on most flights.
Pruitt told CBS News' "The Takeout" podcast that he's directed his staff to find ways to address potential security threats while also flying coach:
"What I've told them going forward is this: There's a change occurring, you're going to accommodate the security threats as they exist, you're going to accommodate those in all ways, alternate ways, up to and including flying coach. And that is going to happen on my very next flight."
Countable's original story appears below.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and his top aides spent over $90,000 on travel costs – including flying first class and on military jets - during the early weeks of June 2017.
Pruitt defended his travel expenses, telling the New Hampshire Union Leader that the decision stemmed from unspecified security threats.
"Unfortunately…we’ve had some incidents on travel dating back to when I first started serving in the March-April timeframe. We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment," Pruitt said. He added:
"We’ve reached the point where there’s not much civility in the marketplace and it’s created some issues and the (security) detail, the level of protection is determined by the level of threat."
Federal regulations mandate that when a government employee travels, they "exercise the same care in incurring expenses that a prudent person would exercise if traveling on personal business…and therefore, should consider the least expensive class of travel that meets their needs."
First-class travel is allowed, but only on flights over 14 hours, if there’s a medical disability, or when "exceptional security circumstances [mean the] use of coach class accommodations would endanger your life or government property."
In his interview with the Union Leader, Pruitt also stated that he doesn’t make travel arrangements. "I'm not involved in any of those decisions," he said. “Those are all made by the [security] detail, the security assessment in addition to the chief of staff.”
In September, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned amid scrutiny of the chartering of private jets and military aircraft to fulfill his cabinet duties. His flights cost taxpayers upwards of a $1 million dollars.
Is this use of taxpayer money to fund private and first-class travel for cabinet members appropriate? Should Pruitt have to reimburse the government for his flight expenses? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.
(Photo Credit: Aureliy / iStock)
Written by Countable
No surprise from someone who is taking taxpayer money to make themselves feel self-important, Scott Pruitt’s statement that he did not have a say in his air travel ticket is UNTRUE. Pruitt is the (supposed) head of the EPA. For instance, it was his decision to arrive in Italy early so that he and others in his group, could sightsee in Rome. He decided to take a military flight to CT from Washington DC. All this on the taxpayers back. Since he believes as #45, there is no conscience to responsibility of his own carbon footprint. In order to stop this gross over-spending by #45’s self-entitled appointed billionaires who think nothing of taking money from others, I propose the following: Establish a yearly travel spending budget for each office. The budget is to be based on flying business class only. If the travel is within mileage between Washington DC and CT or places South or West of Washington DC, the budget credit would be for Amtrak travel ~ not air travel. If the person goes over budget, it is on that person to pay OUT-OF-POCKET for the remainder of the year. No exceptions.
What a waste of taxpayers money. If he wants to go first class he needs to pay for it not the American people.
Scott Pruitt needs to resign immediately. Between his outrageous security detail, his soundproof phone booth and his love for traveling in comfort, he considers himself above every American paying his salary and his outrageous travel expenses. Perhaps if he took his position to protect the environment and the citizens of this country seriously, he would face less hostility in public. Americans face hostility every day and don't have the ability to protect themselves with high-priced security details or insulate themselves by wasting money they don't have flying private jets around the country. The only thing that makes him different is (1) he is not paying the bills and (2) he is not held accountable for his actions. If he feels threatened by the public he has taken an oath to serve, maybe it is time for him to find a new job. I would ask Congress to demand a full accounting of the 'threats' he feels justify these actions, but that would be another waste of taxpayer money. This Congress proves daily they have no interest in serving and protecting the public either. Corruption starts at the top and this administration is setting a new standard for what is acceptable that I find deplorable.
“We live in a very toxic environment...”?! Really?!! I’m sorry, that’s way too ironic to be an accident. The man is taunting us!
If an elected official or hired employee of any US Government agency, uses taxpayer funds unethically, first, they should be terminated. Secondly, they should repay what could be defined as theft, as it was a willful unethical action by the criminal. If any representative of a Government agency chooses to spend beyond what is legally allowed by law or policy, then that person shall pay for those extra costs personally. They should also pay for the cost of the audit required to confirm the authenticity and ethics of their purchases and expenditures.
Impeach this whole administration
If you are not smart enough to realize that coach passengers walk through first class to get to their seats, you are not smart enough to run the EPA. And that is independent of the insane assumption that coach passengers=bad and (often) wealthier first-class passengers=good.
So he’s trying to shift blame to the Chief of Staff on this one. I would love to hear General Kelly’s response to that. My guess is he would deny having made and/or approved any of these first class flights. More likely, Scott Pruitt is so used to flying on the oil and gas industry dime that he just can’t go back to traveling in coach with the public he serves. Someone (congress) should be exercising some oversight of the excesses of this White House. And to all of you Trump supporters, let me know how that draining the swamp thing is going. From my vantage point it’s full to the brim and in danger of breaching it’s banks. I had an additional question regarding EPA’s explanation for Sec. Pruitt’s need to travel 1st Class - how does flying in 1st Class make one any safer than flying coach on the same plane? I fly quite a bit and didn’t know that little curtain separating 1st Class from Coach was bulletproof.
Stick to the rules. First class on 14 hour or longer flights. Poor moral character if you ask me.
I am 6’7” 295 lbs and still travel coach on biz travel and personal travel. I all I ask is my government “try” to be good stewards of your tax dollars!
I retired from federal service and during the time I worked i did a lot of TDY; much of it was international with 14 hours for one leg of the flight. It was against the rules to fly anything but economy on the government dollar. I can remember when it first became legal for us to use our own airline points and then we could upgrade if we had enough points. But no extra government money could ever be spent. We could not accept gifts or money (not even lunch) from our contractors and could not use our jobs to make any extra money or effect an election. All these rules seem to have changed with this administration. I believe allowing high status government employees to break all the ethical rules is going to make the average government employees desire to do the same. What’s fair for one is fair for all.
I am so disgusted by our entitled leaders. I am a teacher, struggling to pay student loans. Basically I am an indentured servant who will die carrying this debt. The massive tax bill paid me $14 extra in my paycheck. I can’t fill my car‘s gas tank with that. Yet we have frivolous waste at the extent of taxpayers. Stop this madness. Disgusting.
If Pruitt does not want to travel in the main cabin he needs to incur the additional expense out of his own pocket when ticket is being purchased. I do not believe that the majority of citizens in this country even know what he looks like or who he is. This is just more of the administration taking advantage of our money to live high on the hog.
Like almost all the other appointees of # 45 this man is absolutely inappropriate, the least qualified for his position, and he is another plutocrat convinced of his entitlement to every special expense taken out of the pockets of the poor. It seems almost impossible for people this privileged to glimpse or care about the lives of the 99% as they believe deserve every special expense and that the middle class and poor should finance their superiority. Gag. Get them all out.
Maybe these folks haven’t heard that the US is $20 T in debt. Enforcing prudent travel policy to minimize cost AND travel should be a no brainer, mirror what almost all private sector companies already do. If Cabinet Secretaries want to fly first class or private during domestic travel, then they should pay the difference.
Aww... wittle Scotty needs a safe space. Well then Scott, safe space away on your own dime.
Interesting that he used the phrase ‘toxic environment ‘ to describe his travels when he can’t recognize actual toxic environments which is supposed to be his charge. Evidentially he prefers to waste the taxpayers’ money on excessive travel charges rather than using it towards cleaning up the real toxics.
Stop spending my money flying Pruitt first class and on military aircraft. The reason we don’t have enough money for the things we actually need is that we waste huge amounts on stuff we don’t.
Scott Pruitt flies with a security detail. He doesn’t need to fly first class at taxpayer expense. I expect that the White House doesn’t publish his travel details, so people couldn’t plan to harm him. And people on commercial flights are not flying with weapons. He needs to stick within the rules and not waste taxpayer money for his own comfort.
Congress must implement a program to prevent taxpayers $$ from being used for luxury travel. They can fly budget like everybody else. If they want more amenities, they can pay the difference themselves, or better yet, just stay put and do their jobs. Frankly Pruitt’s Security is close to the bottom of priorities needing funding.