Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has a new justification for flying first class: the “toxic” political environment…
After reading all the comments in my recent commentary on first class travel for government officials, I can almost understand his point. Almost.
Pruitt was in New Hampshire earlier this week for a meeting and was asked by the New Hampshire Union Leader if he flew first class up to the meeting. That’s a 1hr, 25min flight.
Of course he did.
Unfortunately, … we’ve had some incidents on travel dating back to when I first started serving in the March-April timeframe. We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment…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.
Pruitt now has a blanket waiver to travel in business or first class according to an EPA spokesman.
But I believe taxpayers are entitled to know the nature of those threats. What “issues” have been created that force him to sit in first class, surrounded by his security detail versus sitting in economy class, also surrounded by his security detail? Because humans are prone to exaggerate…
I understand the argument that this is focusing on a needle in the haystack of government waste, but I nevertheless find it absurd that any government official would purchase astronomical first class tickets or charter private jets for such short flights.
For everyone saying he deserves first class just like a corporate executive, ask yourself why government spending guidelines say otherwise. Also whether you really consider your tax dollars in the same way a corporation spends private money. I believe this is more than dollars: this represents a violation of trust.
Pruitt Flies Emirates Business Class
Lest you think that I am unfairly targeting Pruitt, I’ll take a moment to defend him for flying Emirates.
CBS News produced a hit-piece on Pruitt concerning his trip to the Vatican last summer. He ended up flying Emirates from Milan to New York, receiving a special waiver to skirt the Fly America Act.
The EPA justified the Emirates flight on the basis that it was the only flight that would get him back to Washington in time to make a cabinet meeting.
And that may actually be true. Pruitt had a morning meeting in Bologna and wanted to return to Washington, DC same-day.
There are no nonstop flights from Milan to Washington. Look at the Milan to New York flight schedule:
You can see the Emirates flight leaves at 4:10p, three hours after the next closest departure. Thus, it is conceivable that Emirates was the only flight that worked.
I’m not even sure why he required a Fly America Act waiver had he booked it under a JetBlue codeshare–
So all the innuendo about Pruitt flying Emirates because it offered a far more luxurious business class is not all that convincing to me.
I still do not think Pruitt’s domestic first class travel is justified. In fact, I think it is unethical since the EPA has failed to explain the risk that Pruitt faces, surrounded by a security detail that costs far more than the flights. But I’m not going to fault him for flying Emirates. I’d do the same thing if I had a morning meeting and needed to get home.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency has broken months of silence about his frequent premium-class flights at taxpayer expense, saying he needs to fly first class because of unpleasant interactions with other travelers.
— David Eggert (@DavidEggert00) February 14, 2018