EPA chief Scott Pruitt says he has to travel first class to avoid security 'threats' — an excuse no one is buying.
On Wednesday morning, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) cut Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt down to size over his use of first-class travel and full-time security detail.
At a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing, Leahy delivered scathing remarks that covered a multitude of Pruitt's scandals, including Pruitt's travel habits.
"The mission of the EPA is simple," Leahy said. "It's to protect human health and the environment. Not to protect industry friends, or to give friends from Oklahoma tens of thousands of dollars in pay raises in defiance of the White House, not to put polluters first, or to travel first class around the world."
Leahy then mocked Pruitt's supposed excuses for needing to travel first class, on the taxpayers' dime.
"Incidentally, a Vermonter said, 'What a silly reason you had to fly first class,' because of a danger to you, unless you flew first class," Leahy told Pruitt. "He said, 'Nobody even knows who you are, and you go in there, oh, somebody might criticize you.' You've got security people that we've never seen before, but you have to fly first class? Oh, come on."
Pruitt's first-class travel is probably his most embarrassing scandal, and it keeps getting worse. The agency tried to justify the expense of the added security by citing "threats" like someone yelling at Pruitt at an airport, or drawing a mustache on a picture of Pruitt and taping it to an elevator door.
But on Monday, the EPA inspector general revealed that Pruitt demanded, and was given, 24/7 security his first day on the job — before these so-called "threats" occurred.
The travel scandal is just the tip of the only iceberg in the world that isn't losing mass. His agency has just been caught covering up a visit Pruitt had in Rome with a priest who is facing charges of child sex abuse. It was also revealed this week that he and the White House suppressed a report about toxic chemicals in drinking water.
Pruitt is the subject of at least 11 federal investigations.
As Leahy noted, the mission of the EPA is simple, yet vitally important. The only first-class ticket Pruitt deserves is into the dustbin of history, one-way.