Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt—former Senator and Attorney General from Oklahoma—was investigated by a left-wing environmental group for his trips back to his home state, some of which included the spending of taxpayer dollars.
Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) sought information about Pruitt’s trip with a Freedom of Information Act request that revealed Pruitt had traveled to Oklahoma about 10 times, ABC News reported on Friday.
The trips estimated cost is $15,000, according to ABC News.
The report also included news that EIP has now asked for the U.S. Office of Special Counsel to investigate the matter, which legal watchdog group American Oversight said could mean Pruitt violated federal rules by using government resources for personal or political purposes.
But Pruitt’s hometown newspaper, the Tulsa World, published an editorial on Sunday over the flap about Pruitt’s travels, praising the native son as in touch with real Americans and accusing environmental activists of conducting a “fishing expedition.”
The editorial, entitled “Tulsa World editorial: Heaven forfend! Scott Pruitt is going home on weekends! A not-so-stunning revelation about the EPA chief ’s use of taxpayer funds,” said:
If we were supposed to [be] shocked to learn that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is going home on weekends, we’re not.
A fishing expedition request for Pruitt’s EPA expense accounts by an environmentalist advocacy group pretty much discovered just that, and that he was spending some public money along the way and met with people that the advocates don’t approve of.
The New York Times first reported the results of a Freedom of Information request for Pruitt’s expense accounts filed by the Environmental Integrity Project, which has a history of blocking development and encouraging regulation. The findings: Pruitt returned to his Tulsa home at least 10 times in his first three months in office, costing taxpayers more than $15,000.
During his trips home, Pruitt made some stops, including an informational meeting at the Brainerd Chemical Company in Tulsa and a speech to the Heritage Foundation in Colorado.
As outrages go, it’s not worth much.
The Washington press corps and the environmental lobby might prefer that the EPA boss be held captive on the East Coast and that he hear nothing but the opinions of “green” lobbyists, but the people out in fly-over country like it when we’re being heard, too.
We prefer it when the people at the top of the nation’s bureaucratic pyramid get out of the Beltway once in a while to talk to ordinary Americans. If Pruitt is coming home to see his friends, family, neighbors and some of the people he regulates, then good for him. That sounds like the acts of a balanced man who wants to know the thinking of the public, not just the pro-regulation lobbyists.
ABC also reported that Pruitt was in Oklahoma on Thursday to talk with the editorial board of the Oklahoman newspaper and with ranchers who live and work on the Oklahoma Panhandle.
A local TV station reported that Pruitt said the criticism of his travel was an attack by his critics.
“The folks talking about this, one, their facts are wrong and that’s not a surprise, but it’s an alt-EPA,” Pruitt said.