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Pruitt has ‘blanket waiver’ to first-class travel rules

Pruitt has ‘blanket waiver’ to first-class travel rules
© Greg Nash

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class travel | Obama EPA chief says reg rollback won't stand | Ex-adviser expects Trump to eventually rejoin Paris accord Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand Overnight Defense: First Gitmo transfer under Trump could happen 'soon' | White House says Trump has confidence in VA chief | Russia concedes 'dozens' of civilians injured in Syria clash MORE has a “blanket waiver” to federal standards that limit officials’ ability to book first-class flights on the taxpayer dime.

Citing “security threats” against Pruitt, EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said late Tuesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out 'subversion' at VA MORE’s top environmental regulator has been granted more leeway in flying business class or first class.

The statement came amid new scrutiny into Pruitt’s travel expenses. The Washington Post reported Sunday that he frequently flies first class, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.

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CBS News reported late Tuesday that Pruitt flew the luxurious business class on Emirates in June 2017 on a flight back from Italy, obtaining a waiver to rules that require official travel to be on United States-flagged airlines.

He flew first class again Tuesday to Boston. He told the New Hampshire Union Leader that his security detail dictated his travel choices, and he played no role in the decisions.

“We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment,” Pruitt told the newspaper.

“We’ve reached the point where there’s not much civility in the marketplace and it’s created, you know, it’s created some issues and the [security] detail, the level of protection is determined by the level of threat.”

Government-wide rules severely limit the ability of any federal employee, including Cabinet secretaries, to use federal money to buy first- or business-class tickets.

One caveat to those rules is for “exceptional security circumstances.”

Wilcox did not provide details about Pruitt’s waiver nor who signed off on it.

Politico first reported on Pruitt's blanket waiver Tuesday.

— Miranda Green contributed to this story.