Associated Press: EPA Chief Sat in Coach When Not Flying on Taxpayer’s Dime
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt flew in coach-class seats on at least two trips home to Oklahoma when taxpayers weren't footing the bill, despite claims he needed to travel in first class at government expense because of security threats.
Copies of Pruitt's official schedule released this week following a public records request show flights made in August and October to Tulsa on Southwest Airlines, a budget carrier that doesn't offer premium-class seats.
Former Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub said Wednesday the companion tickets provided to Pruitt likely violated a federal prohibition that bars officials from accepting gifts from their subordinates exceeding $10. Shaub said the value of the gift is determined not by what Wagner actually paid for the ticket, but what the full market value would have been had the ticket been purchased with cash.
"EPA's discussion of the discounted price that the donor paid is disingenuous," said Shaub, who resigned last year after clashing with President Donald Trump on ethics issues. "In this case, EPA should look to see what Pruitt would have had to pay if he had purchased the ticket on the day that he accepted the gift of free airfare from his subordinate."
Shaub said he expected his former colleagues in the Office of Government Ethics would advise Pruitt that it was inappropriate for him to accept the gifted airfare from an EPA employee and that he must repay Wagner at full market value.