Scott Pruitt Likes Living Large So Long As Taxpayers Are Paying For It

Gage Skidmore/CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr

When forced to pay for flights himself, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt prefers to fly coach.

President Donald Trump defended Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt in a weekend tweet saying that despite ethical concerns raised by the official’s spending habits, “Scott is doing a good job!”

But while Trump says that Pruitt’s security spending is “somewhat more than his predecessor”, the numbers tell a different story: Pruitt’s full-time 20-person security team is more than three times the size of his predecessor’s part-time detail and has cost U.S. taxpayers about $3 million, according to the Associated Press.

What’s more, the EPA chief’s expensive travel habits only extend so far as the taxpayer funds backing them up -- when Pruitt is stuck paying the tab himself, he flies coach.

An EPA official speaking on the condition of anonymity told The Associated Press that Pruitt flew coach on weekend trips for Oklahoma Sooners football games.

The EPA official also told the AP that Pruitt occasionally used an EPA senior adviser’s “buddy pass,” a frequent-flyer reward that allows individuals to bring another person on a flight for free.

Much like Trump’s defense of Pruitt’s unusual security needs due to his “his bold actions at EPA”, a agency spokesman Jahan Wilcox told The Hill that Pruitt security detail and flight arrangements are necessary due to threats to his physical safety.

"According to EPA’s Assistant Inspector General, Scott Pruitt has faced an unprecedented amount of death threats against him and his family. Americans should all agree that members of the President’s cabinet should be kept safe from these violent threats."

Pruitt is also under scrutiny for a condo he rented from the wife of one of Washington, D.C.’s top energy lobbyists for just $50 per night, which media reports have indicated is less than a third the cost of similar properties in the area.