Scott Pruitt’s travels back to his home state of Oklahoma have caught up with him as head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA’s Inspector General announced the start of an investigation into whether his numerous trips home, some at taxpayer’s expense have been a violation of federal ethics rules.
But Pruitt’s office is defending him.
“Administrator Pruitt is traveling the country to hear directly from the people impacted by EPA’s regulations outside of the Washington bubble,” said Amy Graham, an EPA spokeswoman. “This is nothing more than a distraction from the Administrator’s significant environmental accomplishments.”
Democratic members of Congress made the call for the probe after reports surfaced that Pruitt’s trips cost taxpayer’s about $15,000 in the first three months he was in office. Some major news groups speculated the trips were really an effort by Pruitt to lay the groundwork for a possible run to succeed U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe when Inhofe might retire.
The Office of Inspector General, in making the announcement explained it would look into the frequency, cost and extent of Pruitt’s travels to Oklahoma through the end of July.
The probe, said the IG office, would determine “whether EPA policies and procedures are sufficiently designed to prevent fraud, waste and abuse with the Administrator’s travel that included trips to Oklahoma.”
How much travel back to Oklahoma? He was in the state 43 of the 92 days in March, April and May. Records show he made trips to U.S. cities in the middle of the country and made speeches and attended events before then flying to Tulsa for long weekends. Pruitt paid for some parts of the trips that were directly related to his trips home.