EPA Inspector General Criticizes Former Administrator Pruitt’s Excessive Travel Costs

Washington, D.C. – The EPA Office of Inspector General today released a report on former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s excessive personal travel expenses that suggests the agency recover nearly $124,000 from Pruitt for improper first-class travel and personal flights to his home in Oklahoma.

“Let’s hope the federal government sends Scott Pruitt the bill for his clueless self-indulgence,” said Eric Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Environmental Integrity Project.  “Mr. Pruitt enjoyed luxury travel while proposing to eliminate nearly a third of EPA’s workforce.  The Inspector General’s report today confirms that unauthorized first class travel for Pruitt and his security detail cost taxpayers $123,942 in 2017.  The report also found that Mr. Pruitt, who once had his staff drive him to multiple hotels to search for his favorite hand lotion, also billed the government for hotels costing more than 150 percent of the maximum allowed rate.”

Two years ago, the Environmental Integrity Project was the first organization to document and publicize Pruitt’s excessive travel spending with public records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against EPA. On July 24, 2017, EIP wrote to the EPA Office of Inspector General (OIG) to request an investigation of Pruitt’s travel (an inquiry that concluded with today’s OIG report release.) Amid multiple investigations driven by The Washington Post, The New York Times, Bloomberg and several other news outlets, Pruitt resigned on July 5, 2018.

The EPA Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) report can be found here:  https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2019-05/documents/_epaoig_20190516-19-p-0155.pdf

The OIG report identified 40 trips and $985,037 in costs associated with the former administrator’s travel for the 10-month period from March 1, 2017, to December 31, 2017, including for Pruitt’s security guard. Of the 40 trips,16 included travel to, or had stops in, Tulsa, Oklahoma—the location of Pruitt’s home.

“We estimated excessive costs of $123,942 regarding the former Administrator’s and accompanying (security) agents’ use of first/business-class travel because the exception that allowed for the travel accommodation was granted without sufficient justification,” the OIG report says. The Inspector General’s  office also criticized Pruitt for “improper approval of lodging costs above per diem.”

“We recommend that the agency determine whether the estimated excessive airfare of $123,942 and any additional costs through the former Administrator’s resignation in July 2018 should be recovered,” the OIG report says.

The Environmental Integrity Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Washington, D.C., and Austin, Texas, that protects public health and the environment by investigating polluters, holding them accountable under the law, and strengthening public policy.


Media contact: Tom Pelton, Environmental Integrity Project, tpelton@environmentalintegrity.org or (202) 888-2703