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EPA Director is blowing through taxpayer money on luxury flights to meetings shrouded in secrecy

When it comes to EPA Director Scott Pruitt, it’s nothing but the best. After Trump selected longtime EPA foe Scott Pruitt to lead (or dismantle) the Environmental Protection Agency, it’s been one huge expense after another to satisfy the so-called fiscal conservative. In October 2017 it was revealed that Pruitt had drastically increased the personal security detail for his position, spending an additional $2 million of taxpayer dollars on round-the-clock security that was not needed by his predecessors. That figure is for salaries alone, it does not include training, equipment, and travel for his 30-person security team. Why does the EPA director need that much security? Especially while Pruitt and Trump cut the agency’s budget by 30% in their first year? Hard to say. If that isn’t infuriating enough, Pruitt asked for and received a $25,000 private phone booth in his EPA office so that passersby wouldn’t accidentally overhear him on the phone with……..? Big Oil executives? Mining executives? It’s a mystery. And that isn’t the only secrecy in Pruitt’s office. His staff will not allow reporters or the general public to see his much of his schedule. From the Washington Post:

These overseas trips are largely untethered to the kind of multilateral environmental summits that dominated his predecessors’ schedules, and Pruitt rarely discloses where he plans to be.

In an interview Friday, Bowman said the agency doesn’t release Pruitt’s schedule in advance “due to security concerns” and because it could be a “distraction” from the trips. But she added that he has received government invitations for all his foreign trips.

One thing is for certain, when he heads out to these undisclosed meetings, he’s going first class all the way!

On Monday, June 5, accompanied by his personal security detail, Pruitt settled into his $1,641.43 first-class seat for a short flight from the District to New York City. His ticket cost more than six times that of the two media aides who came along and sat in coach, according to agency travel vouchers; the records do not show whether his security detail accompanied him at the front of the plane.

In Manhattan, Pruitt made two brief television appearances praising the White House’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, stayed with staff at an upscale hotel near Times Square and returned to Washington the next day.

That Wednesday, after traveling with Trump on Air Force One for an infrastructure event in Cincinnati, Pruitt and several staffers raced to New York on a military jet, at a cost of $36,068.50, to catch a plane to Rome.

Four trips alone cost taxpayers a minimum of $90,000. Knowing how unnecessarily large his security detail is, you can imagine that number is considerably higher.

The New York Times has previously noted Scott Pruitt had a habit of taking multi-day trips back to his family residence in Oklahoma, tacking on a “meeting” and then billing taxpayers for trips back home.

According to Mr. Pruitt’s calendar, he typically spends three to five days in the state but often lists just one official meeting. In one case, he traveled to Oklahoma on March 23 and received an award from the National Stripper Well Association in Oklahoma that day. He stayed through March 27.

In that case, Mr. Pruitt asked for reimbursement for one leg of the travel, noting in the voucher that the rest of the weekend would be spent at his personal residence. On another trip, from May 4 through May 8, Mr. Pruitt met with the head of a rural water association on May 5, with no other meetings scheduled.

“He needs to say why spending half his time in Oklahoma and having one meeting per trip is performing his duties as an administrator,” Mr. Schaeffer said. He added that the trips gave the appearance that Mr. Pruitt is “keeping his political contacts warm” and questioned the amount being reimbursed as part of official E.P.A. business.

Worse than his over-the-top expenditures, Pruitt is taking the Environmental Protection Agency down a dangerous path, turning control of our environmental regulations back to the mega-corporations who polluted our air, water and land in the first place. Trump ran on “draining the swamp” but it is evident to all that his words were rhetoric alone. He not only isn’t draining the swamp, he’s flying his man around in first-class and chartered jets to meet with the swamp and give them everything they ever wanted. All at the expense of the American taxpayer.

Jen Hayden

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