The media has certainly been interested in the travel costs associated with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, his staff and security team. Just yesterday the Washington Post ran a breathless article titled, Travel costs for EPA chief’s security detail topped $30,000 on Italy trip. There’s nothing wrong with the media keeping tabs on expenditures by government officials, of course. We want someone looking out for the taxpayer’s dime. Of course, we would expect that the coverage be somewhat fair and balanced.
In the WaPo article, they made the “Italy trip” sound like some sort of sightseeing tour. In reality, Pruitt and his staff were attending the G7 summit, but did visit the Vatican, which the Washington Post found absolutely scandalous. But still, the cost of such things should be made available to the public, right? Oddly enough, though, it wasn’t that long ago that somebody else held the same position as Pruitt. (A couple of somebodys actually.) I don’t seem to recall this level of interest, even though Gina McCarthy and Lisa Jackson both did quite a bit of globetrotting on the taxpayer’s dime. Let’s take a short trip down memory lane and see how the two administrations stack up, shall we?
In 2017, Scott Pruitt and his security detail went on two overseas trips. On the G7 trip, they spent $84,000. On a separate trip to Morocco they spent $40,000. Whether or not that bill for two trips all year is excessive can remain in the eye of the beholder. But before you decide, let’s first look at how Gina McCarthy and her security detail did during the Obama administration.
In 2016, Team McCarthy made three trips spending the following amounts:
$68,382 to travel to Ghana
$45,139 to travel to Peru
$74,737 to travel to Tokyo
They were a bit more busy in 2015 it seems. McCarthy and the security team racked up the following bills:
$41,320 to travel to Paris
$90,367 to travel to Dubai
$67,702 to travel to Tokyo
$56,192 to travel to Italy
We need to pause and include a side note about that last entry. When McCarthy went on her own “Italy trip” where do you think she visited? Oh, that’s right.. it was the Vatican. Of course she was there to “discuss climate change” so I’m sure everyone’s cool with that.
Moving on, Gina McCarthy and her security detail hit the road a bit in 2014 as well.
$62,246 to travel to Vancouver (Seriously? It costs that much to go to Canada?)
$68,267 to travel to Vietnam
McCarthy and company only took one trip in 2013, spending $55,384 to travel to China.
Before McCarthy there was Lisa Jackson who also answered the beckoning call of the road on occasion. Let’s see how she and her security detail did.
2012: $64,963 to travel to Israel.
2011: $59,950 to travel to Rio De Janeiro.
2011: $51,435 to travel to Montreal.
2011: $155,763 to travel to China. (No, that wasn’t a typo. That was more than $155K for a single trip.)
Scouring the pages of the usual mainstream media outlets, I’m simply failing to find any sort of outraged pieces about how much all those trips cost or asking why there was a need for security details to accompany the EPA chiefs. But ever since Donald Trump came to town it appears to be a subject of keen interest. It almost seems as if there’s some deeper, hidden meaning here but I just can’t put my finger on it.
Reached for comment on these figures and the apparent disparity in media coverage, the EPA offered this:
The double-standard couldn’t be more clear: under Barack Obama’s EPA the media chose not to report on expenditures to protect the EPA Administrator for international travel or the costs of their trips, but under the Trump Administration the costs to protect our government officials is somehow scandalous.
– EPA spokesman, Jahan Wilcox
Funny old world, isn’t it?