Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) demanded on Wednesday that Environmental Protection Agency Administer Scott Pruitt hand over all details relating to his tax-payer funded travel expenses since assuming his post last year.
At issue is whether Pruitt has a permanent waiver to fly first class -- a detail on which his office has provided inconsistent responses.
“Clearly, federal regulations prohibit a blanket waiver to fly first class except to accommodate disabilities or special needs,” Mr. Gowdy wrote in a letter. “Instead, a waiver is required for each flight in order to fly first or business class when traveling on official government business.”
An explanation provided by Pruitt's office indicated the first-class arrangements were necessary due to security threats.
Jahan Wilcox, a spokesman for the E.P.A., initially issued a statement that said that Mr. Pruitt had a “blanket waiver” to fly first class out of concern for his security. Mr. Wilcox later amended that to say that the E.P.A. did in fact submit a waiver for each trip.
According to the General Services Administration’s regulations for travel by federal employees, “blanket authorization” of anything other than coach-fare travel is barred except for reasons related to a disability or special need, and authorization for first-class travel is given on a “trip-by-trip” basis.
Democrats have been quick to criticize Pruitt, but the issue raised bipartisan concern as well with a handful of Republicans voicing their concerns.
Mr. Gowdy asked that Mr. Pruitt’s travel information be handed over by 5 p.m. on March 6. Mr. Wilcox on Wednesday declined to comment on Mr. Gowdy’s letter, saying in an email, “We will respond to Chairman Gowdy through the proper channel.”