February 15, 2018
By Alex Guillen –
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s security team decided last year he should fly first class to avoid confrontations with angry individuals on planes and in airports, an agency official said Thursday as EPA sought to explain the chief’s penchant for pricey travel.
“He was approached in the airport numerous times, to the point of profanities being yelled at him and so forth,” Henry Barnet, director of the agency’s Office of Criminal Enforcement, told POLITICO.
“The team leader felt that he was being placed in a situation where he was unsafe on the flight,” said Barnet, a career employee and longtime law enforcement official who joined EPA in 2011.
EPA offered the explanation after five days of controversy over Pruitt’s travel that started with a Washington Post report that he and EPA staff had racked up more than $90,000 in travel in early June.
His critics include Republican members of Congress who said they routinely ride coach and can’t understand why Pruitt can’t as well. “I would be embarrassed to get on a plane, sit down in first class and have my constituents pass me by and see me in first class,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said Wednesday.