EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision to fly first- or business-class is hardly a scandal. According to a Politico report, it turns out the decision was his security team’s — not his — and was taken after “he was approached in the airport numerous times, to the point of profanities being yelled at him and so forth.”
Politico’s source, EPA Office of Criminal Enforcement director Henry Barnet, is a career law enforcement official, who joined the EPA under Obama’s administration in 2011. He added:
“The team leader felt that he was being placed in a situation where he was unsafe on the flight . . . We felt that based on the recommendation from the team leader, the special agent in charge, 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,” he said.
#TheResistance was a bit blindsided by this news, especially given that it is their own lack of civility that is responsible for the “scandal.” And so they have switched their argument, contending now that Pruitt deserved the abuse he received for polluting the environment, and calling him a wuss for having to switch seats. Here’s Vanity Fair’s Bess Levin:
Apparently, individuals going up to the E.P.A. administrator and making completely factual statements was a bridge too far . . . It’s not totally clear why the security team believes that only people flying coach think Pruitt is a prick who deserves to be told as much, but perhaps they’ll address that at a later date.
So, no, Pruitt’s first-class seat selection is not a scandal. It is unnecessary, though, and if Levin and Co. want the waste to stop, a good start would be advising their friends to stop verbally assaulting federal officials in airports and on-board planes. (And mailing manure and white powder to their houses.)