Someone needs to tell the members of the Trump Administration that luxury air travel on the taxpayer’s dime isn’t part of the compensation package. Just because the president gets to use Air Force One doesn’t mean everyone who works for him gets to fly in similar style, too.
Last year we learned about multiple Trump officials who had abused their travel allowances and decided to fly first class, charter private planes, or even arrange for military operated aircraft while on routine or even superfluous travel to exotic destinations without a clear business reason.
Then Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was forced to resign after a Politico report revealed that Price had cost taxpayers nearly $1,000,000 on private charter and military aircraft in just a few months.
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Now Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt is in the crosshairs after the Washington Post uncovered a similar addiction to luxury air travel, even on short trips between Washington, D.C. and New York.
According to the Post:
“Taxpayer-funded travel for Pruitt and his top aides during a stretch in early June [of 2017] cost at least $90,000, according to months of receipts obtained by the Environmental Integrity Project under the Freedom of Information Act. That figure does not account for the costs of Pruitt’s round-the-clock security detail, which have not been disclosed.
The EPA has finally responded to the Post’s report, and they have a reason for Pruitt’s predilection for plush planes… sort of.
The Hill reported late Tuesday that, “Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt has a ‘blanket waiver’ to federal standards that limit officials’ ability to book first-class flights on the taxpayer dime,” and that because of undisclosed “security threats” against Pruitt, the nation’s top environmental regulator has “been granted more leeway in flying business class or first class.”
Among his aerial abuses was a business class trip from Italy back to Washington on luxurious Emirates Airlines. Not only did that itinerary include a connecting flight to Emirates’ hub in Dubai, UAE – about 2700 miles in the wrong direction – it required a waiver from a long standing rule that government officials fly only on airlines based in the United States whenever its an option.
A search on any travel website reveals dozens of flights between Italian cities and Washington, D.C. on any given day, and more convenient non-stop flights to boot.
EPA officials maintain the trips abroad and around the globe have all been necessary to promote President Trump’s agenda.