EPA boss took charter, military plane for personal trips



When Scott Pruitt was named head of the Environmental Protection Agency he vowed to scale back federal oversight, cut costs and roll back regulation.


But since taking over the agency he once sued on a regular basis, Pruitt has racked up some strange bills that are raising eyebrows with critics.


A series of reports on Wednesday detailed how Pruitt has spent a total of $58,219.19 on non-commercial travel.


In July, Pruitt flew on a private plane for official travel while visiting his home state of Oklahoma, CBS News reported.

Trump ‘not happy’ with Tom Price’s use of private jets


Pruitt flew on an eight-seat Learjet on July 27 from Tulsa to the town of Guymon, in the state’s panhandle, where he met with farmers at a town hall, CBS reported.


Following the meeting, he took the same plane to Oklahoma City.


The total fight time was 83 minutes, which cost taxpayers $14,285.71, according to a purchase order obtained by CBS News.


The former Oklahoma attorney general also flew from Cincinnati to Kennedy Airport on an Air Force plane on June 7, before boarding a commercial flight to Italy for a Group of Seven environmental summit, according to CNN.

Tom Price vows to curtail chartered flights until after review


A spokesman for the EPA told the cable news network that the use of the military plane was necessary “due to logistical obstacles and the need to schedule meetings with the Vatican before the G7 Summit.”


Officials are required to take the “most expeditious” means of transportation under Federal Travel Regulations.

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Reports of Pruitt’s travel expenses by private jet came hours after President Trump said he is “not happy” with Tom Price’s use of private planes for government business.

(SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)


On Aug. 4, Pruitt flew on another private jet from Denver to Durango, Colo., and back, because his commercial flight had been delayed by more than five hours, CNN reported, citing an EPA spokesman.


An EPA spokesperson told CBS that the agency’s ethics office approved the flights.

Pruitt won’t say if Trump even discussed climate change with him


Last month, the EPA’s inspector general announced it was launching a probe into Pruitt’s frequent flights home to Oklahoma.


The audit was “initiated based on congressional requests and a hotline complaint, all of which expressed concerns about Administrator Pruitt’s travel—primarily his frequent travel to and from his home state of Oklahoma at taxpayer expense.


“We are glad that the EPA Office of Inspector General is looking into this issue, to determine whether taxpayer funds were spent appropriately,” said Sylvia Lam, an attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project.


The nonprofit group found through Freedom of Information Act requests that Pruitt spent nearly half of the days in March, April and May in Oklahoma.


While former EPA head Gina McCarthy also travelled to her home, in Boston, she paid for the flights, according to The New York Times.


Pruitt, on the other hand, has amassed a $12,000 bill that taxpayers are being forced to foot according to records obtained by the Environmental Integrity Project.


Pruitt, who backed President Trump’s plan to slash the EPA’s budget by 31%, has a few other funny items on his list of expenditures.

Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin was also criticized after using a government plane for personal use.

Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin was also criticized after using a government plane for personal use.

(Instagram)


It was reported earlier this week that the EPA is spending $24,570 for a “privacy booth for the administrator.”


According to former employees, the agency has long maintained a secured private room.


“This seems like the height of paranoia to me. As someone who spent a lot of time in the administrator’s office, I can tell you that there was nothing like this,” Liz Purchia, former head of communications at the EPA, told CNN.


“EPA already has a secure room for sharing information classified as secret,” she added.


The agency’s inspector general is also looking into special agents being pulled from their regular posts investigating environmental crimes to work as Pruitt’s 24/7 security detail.


The reports of Pruitt’s propensity for traveling by private jet came hours after President Trump said he is “not happy” with Tom Price amid reports that the Health and Human Services secretary used private planes for government business.


The House Oversight Committee on Wednesday demanded Price hand over details on his use of costly charter flights on the taxpayer’s dime, according to POLITICO.


The request is part of a wider probe into the use of government planes and private aircrafts by Trump administration officials.


At least one other top Trump official is under scrutiny for their travel habits


Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin was criticized after he sought to use a government plane for his August honeymoon — which he did not get — as well as trip to Fort Knox to watch the Lunar Eclipse with his wife.

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