April 19, 2018
By Jeff Mason –
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, under fire from lawmakers for travel and security expenses, spent about $45,000 in government money to fly five people to Australia to prepare for a planned trip that was later canceled.
Two of his aides and three security agents flew to Australia last August on business-class tickets costing roughly $9,000 each to set up meetings for the EPA administrator.
The purchase of business-class tickets was not a violation of U.S. government policy, which allows federal employees to travel business class on trips lasting 14 hours or more.
But the spending on a five-person “advance” team for the Australia trip, revealed by U.S. officials who spoke to Reuters, comes as Pruitt faces scrutiny over his own frequent first-class travel and spending on such items as a 24-hour security detail.
The White House budget office has said it is investigating whether a $43,000 soundproof phone booth installed for Pruitt in his office at EPA headquarters violated the law.