Scott Pruitt’s Expenses Once Again in the Spotlight

WASHINGTON (CN) – Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt’s expenses are in the spotlight again after the agency released documents Tuesday showing Pruitt spent over $120,000 on combined security and travel costs for a trip to Italy last year.

According to the documents, Pruitt spent the six-figure sum last summer when he met with  members of the Group of Seven, a bloc of industrialized democracies, including Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy and the U.S.

The group meets annually to discuss international energy policy and global economics.

The $120,000 figure is a significant increase in the original amount the EPA originally disclosed Monday which, in heavily redacted format, showed travel costs for Pruitt’s personal security detail last June totaling just $30,554.

The EPA did not release the figures of its own accord, but was prompted by the Environmental Integrity Project. The non-profit D.C.-based watchdog filed a Freedom of Information Act request last September citing concerns over Pruitt’s spending habits.

In a statement Tuesday, Environmental Integrity Project director Eric Schaeffer panned the high costs for Pruitt and “the rest of his entourage.”

“That’s a lot of money for Mr. Pruitt to tour the Vatican, pose for photos, and tell his European counterparts that global warming doesn’t matter,” Schaeffer said. “And it doesn’t even include salary costs for everyone who signed up for this tour.”

Previously released travel vouchers for the Italy trip showed Pruitt spent just $53,000 on the venture but that data omitted costs associated with his 24 hour security detail.

Administrator Pruitt is the first head of the EPA to receive round-the-clock security.

According to the vouchers, the former Oklahoma attorney general spent over $7,000 for first class tickets aboard an Emirates airlines flight which shuttled him to Italy last year.

This is not the first time Pruitt’s expenses have come under scrutiny.

The EPA’s Office of the Inspector General expanded its probe into the former Oklahoma attorney general’s expenditures in January.

Last July, a different FOIA request, filed by E and E News, discovered Pruitt’s security detail was twice as expensive as former administrators, Lisa Jackson and Gina McCarthy alike.

During his first fiscal quarter in office, taxpayers footed a security detail bill totaling $830,000.

Security expenses for predecessor Lisa Jackson, which also included payroll and travel costs, totaled just $423,000 in the first quarter of 2009.

McCarthy’s security expenses totaled roughly $465,000 for the first quarter of 2013.

During an interview in February, Pruitt told CBS News that the cause for 24-hour security was warranted.

“The quantity and type of threats that I face are unprecedented,” he said.

Defending his first-class airfare, Pruitt explained the agency “wanted [him] on a position on the plane to be able to exit expeditiously if an incident arose.”

If a security detail travels with Pruitt around the clock, it is unclear why his security detail would be unable to protect him from threats aboard the plane just a few rows back from first class.

The EPA did not immediately respond to request for comment Tuesday.

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