It seemed like it could be the great mystery of our time: What unspecified threats require Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Scott Pruitt to fly almost exclusively in business or first class? A spokesperson told CBS News on Tuesday that "due to security concerns" the secretary "has a blanket waiver to fly in first or business class," a decision that has increasingly come under scrutiny as President Trump's Cabinet draws concerns over their expensive travel.
In one case, taxpayers footed the bill for Pruitt's round-trip business-class flight to Italy, which cost at least $7,000 and was "several times the cost of what was paid for other staffers who accompanied him on the trip," CBS News adds.
Pruitt offered a glimpse into his air troubles in an interview with The New Hampshire Union Leader on Tuesday, when he said: "Unfortunately ... we've had some incidents on travel dating back to when I first started serving in the March-April timeframe." He added: "We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment" and said he was "not involved" with decisions such as those that led to $90,000 spent on his travel during a period in June.
"Those are all made by the [security] detail, the security assessment in addition to the chief of staff," he said.
At last, on Wednesday, Pruitt gave a definitive — and relatable — answer:
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.
Still, refusing to fly with people who can only afford coach is not a great look, to say the least. HuffPost's Igor Bobic points out that Pruitt is "a public servant, paid by those some travelers." Jeva Lange