Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is no longer taking schmantzy private planes in his jet-setting efforts to kill the Affordable Care Act, but that just means more flights are available for Scott Pruitt, who is still in D.C., surrounded by his $277,378-a-month security detail.
Well, maybe he is — there’s a significant chance he’s luxuriating at 20,000 feet inside a Gulfstream G450. According to The Washington Post, the former Oklahoma attorney general and current Environmental Protection Agency administrator has taken at least four noncommercial and military flights since mid-February. The flights cost taxpayers upwards of $58,000, which is slightly less than the median annual household income in Pruitt’s hometown, Broken Arrow.
The most expensive of these flights was during what President Donald Trump called Infrastructure Week. Pruitt flew on a military flight from Andrews Air Force Base to Cincinnati, where he stood on a stage while Trump spoke until he was orange in the face about fixing America’s roads, bridges and gold-plated skyscrapers. Then, he took another military flight to Bologna, Italy, appropriately enough, where he met with international environmental ministers about how to really piss off the Lorax. That flight alone cost $36,068.50.
The following month, Pruitt flew from Tulsa to Guymon on a Department of Interior jet to meet with “landowners ‘whose farms have been affected’ by a controversial rule regulating water bodies in the United States,” according to WaPo. To most of America, that reads like hard-working Americans tilling the unforgiving panhandle soil, but Guymon is home to massive pork production companies like Seaboard Foods, Hitch Enterprises and Prestage Farms, companies Pruitt hoped to shepherd to virtual legal immunity with last year’s State Question 777. That round-trip flight cost $14,434.50, which would also buy about 48 pigs that might or might not have fit on the plane.
Beyond the landing strips, Pruitt is surprisingly expensive even when he’s just talking. According to Fortune magazine, the EPA spent $25,000 on a soundproof booth from Acoustical Solutions, a Richmond, Virginia, company specializing in keeping the sound in or out – a sure sign that Pruitt doesn’t want anyone to know what he’s plotting. As a cost-cutting solution, Chicken-Fried News suggests that Pruitt please just stop coming up with new ideas for how to power the next generation of iPhones with coal. Things would be a lot cleaner and quieter, and the Lorax might get some shut-eye.