You Could Soon Find the Head of the EPA Sitting Next to You in Coach
The next time you fly in economy, you might see US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt sitting nearby.
The EPA head told CBS News Wednesday that he will be flying coach from now on, following bipartisan backlash over his pricey first class flights. Pruitt claims a "legitimate security issue" has forced him to fly first class around the world. He says he had previously been flying coach until his security team received an "unprecedented" amount of threats. After a threat assessment, his security team advised him to start flying first class for quick access to the exit if a dangerous incident occurred.
"There have been incidents on planes. There have been incidents at airports," Pruitt said of the threats on CBS News' podcast "The Takeout."
He said he is now instructing his security detail to deal with the threats in a different way "up to and including flying coach." Pruitt pledged that "there’s a change coming."
Pruitt faced criticism last year from both Republicans and Democrats for his expensive taxpayer-funded trips, which included a June trip from Washington, DC to New York City with a $1,641.43 price tag in and $14,435 in flights around his home state of Oklahoma throughout the summer of 2017.
Pruitt was also criticized for spending $7,000 on a roundtrip business class ticket to Italy for an energy summit. On that trip, Pruitt flew Emirates first class, one of the most luxurious cabins in the world, and had to obtain a special waiver to fly on a foreign airline. (The Fly America Act forces US officials to fly on US carriers). That trip's final tab ran about $43,000, according to CBS.
Earlier this week, the House Oversight Committee sent a letter to Pruitt asking for his records related to taxpayer-funded travel, including a log of his flights.
The EPA Inspector General has also been investigating Pruitt's travel expenses since last August.