EPA chief jets away for weekends on taxpayer’s dime

WASHINGTON (AP) — Records show the head of the Environmental Protection Agency spent weekends in his home state during his first three months in office, frequently flying to and from Oklahoma at taxpayer’s expense.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s expense reports from March, April and May were released following a Freedom of Information request filed by Environmental Integrity Project, a non-profit watchdog group.

The records show Pruitt traveled home at least 10 times, typically leaving Washington on Fridays and returning on Mondays. Pruitt was either in Oklahoma or on trips that included stops there for nearly half the days encompassed in the three-month period, costing more than $15,000.

EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman did not respond to emails or phone messages from The Associated Press on Monday seeking comment.

Pruitt, a Republican, served as Oklahoma’s attorney general prior to his appointment by President Donald Trump to lead EPA. Married with two children, Pruitt owns a home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There were a couple of occasions where Pruitt traveled on a trip for EPA then paid out-of-pocket to fly to Tulsa before returning to Washington at government expense.

AP reported earlier this year that while Pruitt was in his state job, he was in frequent contact with political donors, corporate executives and industry groups opposed to new environmental regulations enacted under the Obama administration.

He appears to have continued that practice since coming to EPA, including traveling to accept an award from the Oklahoma Well Strippers Association, make a keynote address to a meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council and deliver a speech to the National Association of Manufacturers.

EPA records indicate Pruitt also attended “informational meetings” during the trips, which were first reported by The New York Times. Though a trip to Oklahoma might last three or five days, it was not unusual for only one such meeting to be listed during Pruitt’s time away from…

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