EPA chief taps taxpayer dollars for weekend flights home

Bruno Cirelli
Luglio 25, 2017

"The American people aren't paying taxes for part-time Cabinet officials", Liz Purchia Gannon told reporters Monday, referring to a recent report showing that Pruitt stayed in his home state of Oklahoma on at least 43 of the 92 days in March, April and May. The group's analysis was based on travel documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Critics claim that Pruitt is using taxpayer money to make trips to the Sooner State in an attempt to build political relationships instead of focusing on his top role at the EPA, Reuters reported. Pruitt did put his own money toward some of the travel to his home state, but the EPA fronted the cost of most of his travel there, according to the Environmental Integrity Project.

A 2014 investigation by the New York Times, for instance, found that Pruitt had sent a letter to the EPA, on official letterhead, that had been written by the chief of lobbying for Devon Energy, one of Oklahoma's biggest energy companies. The documents do not provide a schedule for every trip Pruitt took to Oklahoma, however. Eric Schaeffer, executive director of the Environmental Integrity Project and former director of civil enforcement at EPA, suggested that Pruitt's frequent trips back to Oklahoma might be a sign that he intends to run for statewide office after his tenure at the agency. "The administrator's travel, whether to Utah, Michigan or Oklahoma, all serves the goal of hearing from hard-working Americans about how E.P.A. can better serve the American people", spokeswoman Liz Bowman told the Times when asked about Pruitt's travel to his home state and potential political plans for the future.

Gina McCarthy, who served as EPA administrator from 2013 to 2017 under President Barack Obama, also took frequent trips home to MA while at the EPA, but paid for those trips herself, according to the New York Times.

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