The Trump administration’s addiction to pricey luxury travel is making news again, if you can possibly believe that. Even after Tom Price
was shitcanned resigned as HHS secretary of his own free will following reports of his lavish spending on chartered jets, some cabinet members still haven’t gotten the “optics” message, if there was one. EPA boss Scott Pruitt was outed as a serial abuser of first-class travel Monday by a Washington Post investigation that detailed his high-living world tour following his successful job getting the US to ditch the Paris Climate Accord last summer.
Pruitt blew $1,641.43 on a first-class flight from DC to New York — yes, apparently even short flights have first class — while two aides had to suffer with icky steerage passengers in coach. While he was in Manhattan, he stayed in an upscale hotel and flew back the next day. Later that week, he and staffers took a military jet from an event in Cincinnati to New York (a cool $36K), where Pruitt caught another commercial flight to Rome — a thrifty $7,003.52, round trip, although Pruitt’s seat cost several times more than his buds in coach. All told, the tab for travel by Pruitt and his aides for those jaunts in June came to $90,000; WaPo scrupulously notes that doesn’t include the cost of his 24/7 security detail (the first ever for a cabinet official) which is undisclosed for America’s safety.
This is just about the point in the story where we’d expect Pruitt to look innocently at the TV camera and say, “It wasn’t a charter. What’s the big deal?” At least EPA spokesperson Liz Bowman managed to get through her own interview about Pruitt’s travel without being a total jerkwad for a change. Bowman told WaPo that all her boss’s travel had been approved by federal ethics officials (a guy with dark glasses, chewing a toothpick and flipping a coin) and that the man had a JOB to do:
“He’s trying to further positive environmental outcomes and achieve tangible environmental results” through his travel, she said, adding that in the case of the New York trip, “He’s communicating the message about his agenda and the president’s agenda.”
On other domestic trips, Bowman added: “He’s hearing directly from people affected by EPA’s regulatory overreach.”
Excellent point! You can’t dismantle a regulatory watchdog and let industry run wild without that vital public outreach. And to get the job of despoiling the environment done, Pruitt certainly can’t be forced to sit with the angry villagers and their emotional support torches in coach:
Pruitt tends to bring a larger entourage of political advisers on his trips than past administrators. But while the aides usually fly coach, according to travel vouchers through August obtained by The Washington Post separately from the Environmental Integrity Project, he often sits in first or business class, which previous administrators typically eschewed.
Oh, yes, and a lot of his travel is done in secret, without the sort of public announcements prior cabinet secretaries made, because Pruitt wouldn’t want to tip off leftist terrorists — or, worse, freaks who think “accountability” is a thing.
In his defense, Pruitt pretended to be surprised anyone would make anything of his travel, because he’s not even the guy making his reservations, heavens no:
“I’m not involved in any of those decisions,” Pruitt told the New Hampshire Union Leader during a visit to the state. “Those are all made by the [security] detail, the security assessment in addition to the chief of staff.”
Pruitt told the paper that the decision to routinely fly business class and first class across the country and even internationally stemmed from unspecified threats early in his tenure at EPA.
Probably the same threats that required him to build a Cone Of Silence in his own office at EPA headquarters, so he wouldn’t have to brave sniper fire while walking to the building’s existing secure communications facility.
Oh, yes, and when he traveled to New Hampshire, he went first class again:
That twitter gossip was confirmed in the interview, too:
“We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment,” said Pruitt, who acknowledged he had just flown first class from Washington to Boston to reach New Hampshire. “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.”
Isn’t that cute? First Class happens, and the only environmental toxicity Scott Pruitt is bothered by is the metaphorical kind. Besides, Scott Pruitt is in immediate danger from terrible leftist terrorists who say mean things about the EPA administrator like “the only environmental toxicity Scott Pruitt is bothered by is the metaphorical kind.” It’s a wonder he hasn’t asked to be given an Air Marshall’s badge so he can pack a gun on flights. (Actually, do we know that he hasn’t?)
As of yet, Donald Trump has not commented on Pruitt’s pricey travel because he’s been too busy saying nice things about wife beaters. If the issue ever comes up, he’ll no doubt point out that one guy already left because of luxury travel, and besides, if Trump has to live in a dump like the White House, then it’s only fair that Scott Pruitt should have to settle for First Class, where you can’t even grab a stewardess’s ass anymore like in the good old days.
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