GOP chair challenges cancer agency over pesticides States, greens sue Trump over Obama EPA water rule delay MORE faced profanities and confrontations while traveling after controversy surrounding Pruitt's use of first-class flights.
"Unfortunately. we've had some incidents on travel dating back to when I first started serving in the March-April timeframe", he told the newspaper.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt frequently flies in first and business class because he's regularly confronted by angry members of the public during his travels, according to a report in Politico on Thursday.
He says he wasn't involved in the decision to put him in first class when he travels, which he says was made after some unpleasant interactions with travelers opposed to administration policies.
Pruitt said that he is not responsible for making decisions about his travel accommodations, telling the Union Leader that his chief of staff and security team make the determinations.More news: George Groves warns Chris Eubank Jr. against repeating his own mistakes
He receives many more threats than his predecessors, E&E News reported in January, and is the first EPA administrator to have a full-time security detail. "We've reached the point where there's not much civility in the marketplace and it's created, you know, it's created some issues and the (security) detail, the level of protection is determined by the level of threat". "They place me on the plane where they think is best from a safety perspective".
The Washington Post reported this week that Pruitt once spent $1,641.63 on a first-class seat for the 90-minute flight from Washington, DC, to New York City to do a television interview about President Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord. Taxpayers picked up the tab for his round-trip business-class flight, which cost at least $7,000, several times the cost of what was paid for other staffers who accompanied him on the trip.
The Associated Press reported in July and again in December that spending on commercial airline tickets purchased for Pruitt indicated he was flying in premium-class seats.
The EPA chief has regularly sat in first- and business- class seats during his almost one year leading the agency, generating a storm of controversy.
Federal regulations require government employees to "exercise the same care in incurring expenses that a prudent person would exercise if traveling on personal business. and therefore, should consider the least expensive class of travel that meets their needs".More news: Lawmakers eye repeal of requirement they fund education by April 1
And at times, fellow airplane passengers have taken to Twitter and Facebook to highlight Pruitt is on board their flight, said Nino Perrotta, the EPA special agent in charge who has protected EPA administrators going back to the George W. Bush administration.
The EPA's internal watchdog, headed by Inspector General Arthur Elkins, is now reviewing Pruitt's frequent government-funded travel.
The EPA's inspector general has been auditing Pruitt's travel and recently said the scope of the audit extends through 2017.
EPA Spokesman Jahan Wilcox also said Tuesday that Pruitt had a "blanket waiver" to do so. But the EPA's assistant inspector general for investigations told The Washington Post past year that Pruitt has gotten a higher number of threats than his recent predecessors.
Meanwhile, the White House's budget proposal for EPA released earlier this week seeks to cut $3.7 million, or 9 percent, in funding for Elkins' office.More news: FBI Alerted To YouTube 'shooter' Post Last Year