Long before U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned over his travel scandal, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt was under the same kind of scrutiny.
However, Pruitt’s use of non-commercial flights totals $58,000 and not the nearly $1 million run up by Price before he was forced out of office last week.
But as Randy Krehbiel of the Tulsa World reported over the weekend, aides to Pruitt are trying to make sure he doesn’t become the next victim of a travel scandal. They’re rallying to protect Pruitt and offer explanations of when, why and how he resorted to running up the tab on private air flights rather than flying commercial.
Krehbiel likened Pruitt, Price and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin as “posterboys” for the perception that the Donald Trump administration is “awash in self-aggrandizing spendthrifts.”
However, the White House moved quickly on Friday and Chief of Saff John Kelly ordered that he has to approve nearly all travel on “government-owned, rented, leased or chartered aircraft.”
Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget wrote in a memo, “Every penny we spend comes from the taxpayer. We thus owe it to the taxpayer to work as hard managing that money wisely as the taxpayer must do to earn it in the first place.”
He said officials had to stick to commercial travel with few exceptions.
“Put another way, just because something is legal doesn’t make it right,” added Mulvaney.
However, there are still critics who think Pruitt and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke should be removed for what they feel is a waste of taxpayer money.
“They deserve Price’s fate and should be removed from office immediately,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.