U.S. Sen. Tom Udall
U.S. SENATE News:
WASHINGTON, D.C. ― Thursday, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee overseeing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget, responded to the release of a report Udall requested from the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) detailing former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s abuse of taxpayer dollars on unnecessary luxury travel.
The IG report found, among other things that: former Administrator Pruitt spent nearly $1 million on travel in just over 10 months, $124,000 of which was in clear violation of travel rules; Pruitt demanded first class accommodations on unjustified security claims; he made unexplained stops at taxpayer expense in Oklahoma; and the EPA under then-Acting Administrator Wheeler tried to issue a retroactive justification of Pruitt’s travel, in an apparent attempt to spare him having to refund the taxpayers.
In response, Udall issued the following statement:
“The American people already knew that Scott Pruitt’s tenure was a disgrace, and now they have even more evidence – six figures worth of it. Today’s report confirms that Mr. Pruitt used taxpayer money like a personal piggy bank to finance his unwarranted luxury travel tastes: out of the nearly one million dollars he spent on travel in just over 10 months, Pruitt improperly spent nearly $124,000 in taxpayer money on luxury travel expenses.
“Mr. Pruitt’s lavish tastes, and his use of taxpayer money to finance them, have become a punchline. But this isn’t a joke, and the Trump administration should take it seriously and take responsibility. Yet Administrator Wheeler’s EPA rushed to defend Mr. Pruitt’s indefensible conduct following the release of this report – and the report itself indicates Administrator Wheeler’s team retroactively approved Mr. Pruitt’s travel, a de facto pardon of this unacceptable abuse of taxpayer money. And the Wheeler EPA says it plans to do nothing regarding most of the inspector general’s recommendations for how the agency can prevent such abuse from happening in the future.
“There needs to be accountability for such blatant abuses of the public trust. Mr. Pruitt should repay the taxpayer money that he wasted on his lavish travel expenses, like other cabinet secretaries have done. And instead of dismissing these wholly legitimate findings out of hand, the Trump EPA needs to heed the recommendations of the OIG, take action to prevent such impropriety, and show the American people that they are stepping up to restore public confidence in this critically important agency.”