EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said Tuesday that the first class and military flights he takes at taxpayer expense come as a result of the “level of threat” he faces on planes.
“Unfortunately, … we’ve had some incidents on travel dating back to when I first started serving in the March-April timeframe,” he told the New Hampshire Union Leader in an interview Tuesday, during a visit to the state.
“We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment,” he continued, adding: “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.”
The paper said Pruitt confirmed he’d flown first class from Washington, D.C. to Boston for the trip. CBS News’ Julianna Goldman reported later Tuesday that the outlet had learned Pruitt took an expensive Emirates business class flight — the ticket was at least $7,000, Goldman said — from Milan to Washington last June, part of $43,000 spent on travel for the trip.
— Julianna Goldman (@juliannagoldman) February 13, 2018
That dispatch adds to one from the Washington Post, which reported Sunday that Pruitt had taken at least $90,000 worth of flights in part of June of last year, including $1,641.43 for a single first class seat to New York, from Washington D.C.
Pruitt told the Union Leader he wasn’t “involved in any of those decisions,” and that “[t]hose are all made by the (security) detail, the security assessment in addition to the chief of staff.”
The Post and CBS News had already reported on Pruitt’s expensive travel habits in September of last year.
And he’s not alone among senior Trump administration officials: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price have received similar scrutiny for luxury, taxpayer-funded travel. Price lost his job as a result, the rest remain in their positions.