Pruitt spent $105,000 on first-class flights in first year: report

Pruitt spent $105,000 on first-class flights in first year: report
© Greg Nash

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittTrump admin appeals ruling ordering EPA to ban pesticide Government watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels MORE spent more than $105,000 on first-class airline travel in his first year on the job, Politico reported.

The total came from documents the EPA sent to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyHouse panel signals Russia probe document dump before midterms Rosenstein report gives GOP new ammo against DOJ Gowdy: Declassified documents unlikely to change anyone's mind on Russia investigation MORE (R-S.C.) as part of an investigation into Pruitt’s high-profile premium travel.

Pruitt has flown mostly first class since shortly after taking office in February 2017. The agency has said that Pruitt’s security detail made the decision to put him in first class to better protect him, due to confrontations in airports and on airplanes.

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Among the expenses revealed in the documents were a $16,217 short trip in December to Morocco, where Pruitt was promoting American liquefied natural gas exports to the nation’s leaders, Politico said.

Pruitt missed a connecting flight and stayed a night in Paris, the records show.

He also canceled a planned trip in August and September to Australia to “discuss best practices regarding the environmental operations,” the records said.

Based on the same records, The Washington Post found that Pruitt has spent $68,000 on travel just in the last seven months.

The totals don’t include Pruitt’s staff or security detail accompanying him.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox defended the first-class flying.

“We have responded to Chairman Gowdy. The letter explains, 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,” he said in a statement.

Documents released Tuesday by an environmental group showed that on one trip to Italy last year, the EPA spent more than $30,000 to bring Pruitt's security detail. The total cost of that trip was more than $84,000.

The records sent to Gowdy do not include charter or military flights. Pruitt has taken a handful of those, including one from Cincinnati to New York City to catch the flight for the Italy trip, which cost more than $36,000.

Gowdy had asked for the most recent documents by March 6, but the committee just received them.

Oversight Committee staff and the EPA declined to provide the records to The Hill.

Pruitt has committed to trying to fly economy class more often, as long as his security team can accommodate the request.

“What I've told them going forward is this: There is 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 what's going to happen on my very next flight. So those things are happening right away,” he told CBS News's Major Garrett last month.

Pruitt traveled this past weekend to Oklahoma for an agricultural event and to Dallas to meet with regional EPA staff based there, according to his Twitter account.

The EPA declined to say whether he flew in coach class on any of those flights, instead referring to the CBS interview.

— Miranda Green contributed to this story.