EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is delaying a trip to Israel as scrutiny intensifies over first class flights he took over safety concerns, The New York Times reports.
This is the second time Pruitt has suspended his Israel trip, which was supposed to focus on water issues and involved a tour of a water recycling plant. He suspended it first in January over problems with the logistics.
“We decided to postpone. The administrator looks forward to going in the future,” EPA Spokeswoman Liz Bowman told TheNYT, declining to give an official reason for suspending the trip a second time.
Pruitt is fending off questions into several flights he took where he traveled first-class or business while his entourage of aides and security rode in cheaper seats. One round trip to Italy cost taxpayers more than $43,000 dollars, with Pruitt’s share of the price tag more than $7,000.
Death threats against the EPA chief have skyrocketed since he took office, prompting him to maintain stiffer security and make more expensive choices in travel and accommodations. Incidents have extended to personal interactions with other passengers before he upgraded seating, recommended by his security staff.
“[Pruitt] was approached in the airport numerous times, to the point of profanities being yelled at him and so forth,” Henry Barnet, director of the EPA’s Office of Criminal Enforcement, told Politico.
“The team leader felt that he was being placed in a situation where he was unsafe on the flight,” Barnet said, who has served in in the law enforcement agency since former-President Barack Obama’s first term. Barnet said in one incident in Atlanta, a passenger screamed at Pruitt, “‘Scott Pruitt, you’re f—ing up the environment.'”
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