Under intense scrutiny for taking expensive first class flights and staying in luxury hotels on the taxpayer's dime, EPA chief Scott Pruitt informed the public of the real reason he stays away from coach: to avoid uncomfortable interactions with people who are mad at him for trying to destroy the planet.
"If you think you're too good to sit next to people who have to work for a living, you're also going to be fine cutting programs they rely on, so you can give even more to your buddies in first class."
—Rep. Keith Ellison
"We live in a very toxic environment politically," Pruitt explained in an interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader this week—an interesting choice of words, given that the EPA chief's policy moves have greatly contributed to the toxicity of the actual geophysical environment.
In separate remarks to New Hampshire's WMUR TV, Pruitt said "there have been instances, unfortunately, during my time as administrator, as I've flown and spent time, of interaction that's not been the best."
"And, so, ingress and egress off the plane...that's all decisions all made by our [security] detail team, by the chief of staff, by the administration," Pruitt added. "I don't make any of those decisions."
I thought it was safety? This is a pretty amazing statement, if you think about it. He’s saying that there will be fewer people opposed to his policies in first class. https://t.co/TCmckhk5xq
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) February 14, 2018
Pruitt's comments came during his short stint in New Hampshire—where he arrived on a first-class flight—to meet with Republican Gov. Chris Sununu and tour a toxic waste site.
Since the Washington Post reported on the dozens of first-class flights Pruitt has taken during his tenure—which have cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars—the EPA has been scrambling to explain why such expensive flights were justified.
Originally, the agency claimed in response to the Post's reporting that Pruitt had received a "blanket waiver" to travel first class whenever he pleases. But after Politico explained that such a waiver would be illegal, the EPA reversed course and said Pruitt "submits a waiver to fly in either first or business class" for every trip.
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Critics were quick to ridicule Pruitt's comments on social media and raise serious questions about the claim that "unpleasant interactions" with people who disagree with the EPA's pro-fossil fuel policy agenda constitute a security threat.
If you think you're too good to sit next to people who have to work for a living, you're also going to be fine cutting programs they rely on, so you can give even more to your buddies in first class. https://t.co/aJMT0lG19x
— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) February 14, 2018
This guy is a public servant paid by the people he's seeking to avoid https://t.co/yHqzDAtR5c
— Astead (@AsteadWesley) February 14, 2018
from the damage control playbook, they may have emphasized honesty a little *too* much https://t.co/vVj65bXBmK
— Eric Schultz (@EricSchultz) February 14, 2018