Home / New documents show nearly $68,000 in recent premium flights, hotel stays for EPA’s Pruitt – The Denver Post

New documents show nearly $68,000 in recent premium flights, hotel stays for EPA’s Pruitt – The Denver Post

WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency turned over documents to Congress late Tuesday detailing nearly $68,000 in newly disclosed travel costs for Administrator Scott Pruitt during the past seven months.

The records, which came at the request of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and were obtained by The Washington Post, show dozens of first-class domestic and overseas flights for Pruitt and other trip expenses between August and last month. That figure, which includes stays at high-priced hotels in New York City and Paris, does not include the travel expenditures of the personal security detail and aides who typically accompany him.

EPA officials attribute the elevated costs of Pruitt’s travels to the security precautions they have undertaken because of the number of threats he has received – especially compared to his immediate predecessors – since joining President Donald Trump’s Cabinet in February 2017.

The administrator has received round-the-clock security protection since shortly after he took office, and after a protester made vulgar and threatening remarks to Pruitt last spring, the head of his security detail recommended that he fly in first or business class to provide a buffer between him and the public.

“We have responded to Chairman Gowdy,” EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in an email. “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.”

Pruitt has been under fire for months because of his expenses, not just for travel in this country and abroad but for changes he has made at EPA headquarters, including the installation of a soundproof phone booth in his office for private communications.

Gowdy requested the latest information after The Post reported in February on Pruitt’s regular first-class travel. EPA officials initially indicated they had obtained blanket approval for him to buy premium-class tickets due to security concerns. A two-week stretch of travel in June by the administrator and his aides cost more than $120,000, according to records obtained by The Post and the Environmental Integrity Project under the Freedom of Information Act.

Pruitt’s aides later clarified that they clear each first-class ticket purchase with appropriate federal officials.

The latest documents reveal how that all adds up.

A journey to Morocco in December, where Pruitt and his aides promoted U.S. natural gas exports, ranked as the most costly trip detailed in the agency travel vouchers. They show that just Pruitt’s travel for the four-day trip – expenses for his roughly 10-person staff and security entourage were not disclosed – amounted to $17,631. The charges appear to include a $500 overnight stay in Paris on the way to Morocco. An EPA official said the trip was affected by weather delays, which prompted the group to stay in Paris on Dec. 10 before arriving in Rabat the next day.

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