New documents show higher price tag for Scott Pruitt's travel

EPA Administrator Pruitt's trip to Italy last year cost about $120,000

March 20, 2018, 8:10 PM

Environmental Protective Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt's trip to Italy last year cost about $120,000 – just over $30,000 more than previously made public, according to an agency summary provided to a watchdog group.

The higher costs – $30,553.98 – were related to his security detail, according to a document obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and subsequent lawsuit by the Environmental Integrity Project, a non-partisan and non-profit watchdog group.

ABC News has reviewed the agency released single redacted page with the cost of Pruitt's security detail on his trip.

The cost of Pruitt's travel for 2017 is already under review by the agency's inspector general and the watchdog is also slated to look into the cost of his security detail.

Previously released travel documents showed that the EPA spent about $90,000 for Pruitt and his staff to travel to Italy for one day of the G-7 environmental summit, including a $36,000 military flight that was approved so Pruitt could join President Trump at an event in Cincinnati and make it to New York in time for his flight to Rome.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said that the agency followed the same procedures for the G-7 trip as other administrators.

"Administrator Pruitt’s security detail followed the same procedures for the G7 environmental meeting in Italy that were used during EPA Administrators Stephen Johnson, Lisa Jackson, and Gina McCarthy’s trips to Italy. EPA’s security procedures have not deviated over the past 14 years," Wilcox said Tuesday in a statement.

The EPA inspector general has said the office will review Pruitt's security expenditures but that it is not sure when it will be able to start looking into it because they have so many other investigations and reports pending.

The Government Accountability Office is also looking into the agency's spending on a "secure phone booth" for Pruitt's office, which recently released documents showed cost roughly $43,000 for construction and the booth itself.

Sen. Tom Udall, the ranking Democrat on the appropriations subcommittee with oversight of the EPA budget, said Tuesday that the EPA is not cooperating with that GAO investigation. Udall said in a statement that the GAO sent its first request on December 21 but the agency has not yet responded.

“I am concerned that the agency may be misleading the committee and the public about the function of the privacy booth while also inappropriately classifying the expense as related to national security in order to avoid proper notification under section 710,” Udall wrote in a letter to Pruitt.

But Wilcox said that's not the case and the agency has been cooperating through the proper channels.

"We do dispute that. We are responding through the proper channels which presently include EPA’s Office of General Counsel answering questions from the Government Accountability Office," he said in a statement.