Pruitt Takes $1,600 First-Class Flights to Avoid His Haters in Economy

Like one passenger who reportedly walked up to the EPA chief and told him he was "fucking up the environment."

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Feb 16 2018, 5:15pm

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

EPA head Scott Pruitt has done a lot to make Americans mad. The fossil fuel ally has ignored evidence that CO2 causes climate change, suggested that scientists debate global warming on TV, and recently said that warming temperatures might actually be a good thing, all while running an organization that's lost more than 700 people since he took over.

On top of all that, the environmental chief has been spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on first-class flights, a habit he blamed on certain security "incidents" he's faced at America's airports. But according to Politico, it looks like Pruitt has just been going out of his way to avoid all the people who are pissed at him.

Henry Barnet, director of the agency's Office of Criminal Enforcement, told Politico that Pruitt has been "approached in the airport numerous times, to the point of profanities being yelled at him and so forth." Pressed for an example, Barnet recalled an incident at Atlanta's airport when someone marched up to the EPA administrator, started recording him on his cellphone, and yelled "Scott Pruitt, you're fucking up the environment."

It's not exactly clear how flying first class could've prevented a run-in like that, and there's no clear logic behind the idea that first class is inherently more secure than coach. But Barnet said that by May of last year, so many folks had berated the EPA chief at airports that the head of his security detail recommended Pruitt opt into first class whenever he could.

"We felt that... it would be better suited to have him in business or first class, away from close proximity from those individuals who were approaching him and being extremely rude, using profanities and potential for altercations and so forth," Barnet told Politico.

Pruitt's not the only Trump official who's faced the ire of his constituents. Ivanka, Betsy DeVos, and Steve Mnuchin have all gotten shit from the public—quite literally, in the treasury secretary's case. And spending a boatload of public money on flights seems to be a sticking point. Former health and human services secretary Tom Price resigned after using barrels of cash on personal travel, not to mention the first family's own expensive penchant for jet-setting.

Still, airports can be a nightmare for anyone—and thousands of taxpayer dollars is a steep price to pay to avoid public shaming or a few "profanities." If Pruitt really wants to make his travel less stressful, he could always invest in an emotional support animal.

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