The head of the Environmental Protection Agency has come under fire after his comments in a recent interview about why he has to travel first class. It’s not uncommon for a head of government organizations to fly first class, but the reason he gave has angered many with some commenting that he is out of touch with reality.
Scott Pruitt was a controversial pick when appointed by President Trump to head the EPA. According to TIME, Pruitt has made several decisions since his hire that seem a bit paranoid.
He is the first head of the EPA to have 24-hour security, even when he is in his office in Washington. He also has reportedly spent $25,000 to sound-proof his office so that people can’t listen to his phone calls.
Recently, he came under scrutiny again due to an interview he gave to the New Hampshire Union Leader, where he explained the reason why he must fly first class. He claimed he faces mean people in coach ever since he was appointed by President Trump.
“We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment,” he said after flying first class to New Hampshire to take a tour of a toxic waste site. “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.”
Pruitt claimed it’s not his decision to fly first class as his security team sets up any and all travel arrangements.
“There have been instances, unfortunately, during my time as administrator, as I’ve flown and spent time, of interaction that’s not been the best,” Pruitt said. “And, so, ingress and egress off the plane … that’s all decisions all made by our (security) detail team, by the chief of staff, by the administration. I don’t make any of those decisions. They place me on the plane where they think is best from a safety perspective.”
According to Politico, a spokesperson for the EPA, Jahan Wilcox, said Pruitt had a “blanket waiver” when flying first class. Wilcox later recanted his statement. Pruitt has been using taxpayer’s funds to fly first class.
This has not been the first time government officials have been scrutinized for their expensive travel arrangements on the taxpayer’s dime.
Tom Price, the former Health and Human Services Secretary, was caught spending nearly $400,000 of taxpayer’s funds to fly a private jet around the world, according to the Washington Post.