The Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general acknowledged plans Friday to expand its inquiry into Administrator Scott Pruitt’s travel habits, marking the latest Trump Cabinet member to face scrutiny from his own agency for taxpayer-funded trips.
The move came after recent disclosures that Pruitt had taken at least four noncommercial and military flights since mid-February, costing taxpayers more than $58,000 to fly him to various parts of the country, according to records provided to a congressional oversight committee and obtained by The Washington Post.
The initial controversy focused on Pruitt’s flights to his home state of Oklahoma – where, rumor has it, the former state attorney general is eyeing a possible gubernatorial campaign – between March and May. The newly expanded probe will scrutinize other taxpayer-funded flights the EPA chief through September.
This story comes on the heels of reports that Pruitt holds “back-to-back meetings, briefing sessions and speaking engagements almost daily with top corporate executives and lobbyists from all the major economic sectors that he regulates – and almost no meetings with environmental groups or consumer or public health advocates.”
He also made time to chat with officials from the Family Research Council, a right-wing culture-war organization, which at first blush, pushes social issues that are unrelated to the EPA’s work. (Media Matters noted that Pruitt’s schedule omitted several interviews he did with far-right media outlets.)
These controversies are unrelated to concerns about the very expensive phone booth Pruitt is building for himself, his ridiculously large security team, his willingness to ignore EPA scientists, his misleading public remarks, the controversy about his private email address, and the allegations that he illegally hid correspondence that documented his cooperation with the oil and gas industries during his tenure in Oklahoma.
It ordinarily takes someone years to face this many controversies at once. Scott Pruitt has only led the EPA for eight months.