The truth behind Scott Pruitt's "scandalous" trip to Italy

You may recall how the Washington Post made a huge deal out of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s trip to the G-7 summit in Italy last year. It was apparently scandalous that Pruitt and his security detail had roughly $30K in travel expenses and, as the WaPo repeatedly noted, made a stop at the Vatican. This was portrayed as some sort of sightseeing tour on the taxpayer dime. The WaPo made sure to quote Eric Schaeffer of the Environmental Integrity Project who said, “That’s a lot of money for Mr. Pruitt to tour the Vatican [and] pose for photos…”

Shortly after that story ran, we provided EPA records indicating that Pruitt’s predecessor, Gina McCarthy had also attended the G-7, where she and her security detail ran up $56,192 in expenses (nearly twice the cost of Pruitt’s trip) and similarly paid a visit to the Vatican. Of course, digging through the archives of the Washington Post in 2015 (when McCarthy took her trip) there was a curious lack of commentary about the cost or the agenda.

Now even more details of Pruitt’s trip have been released. Rather than simply “touring the Vatican and posing for photos” the EPA boss and his staff were engaged in back to back meetings on the subject of climate concerns. You can find the full report at the Free Beacon.

Pruitt attended delegations, bilateral meetings, and dinners, including a productive meeting with top Vatican officials, who said Pruitt was “thinking carefully” about issues related to climate change.

Pruitt attended a private Mass at 7:15 at the Vatican on his first day in Rome on June 9. Richard Gyhra of the Vatican Secretary of State Office and Father Joseph Spiteri arranged the Mass.

Following Mass, Pruitt was given a brief tour of St. Peter’s Basilica. He then attended a meeting with Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister; Louis L. Bono, the deputy chief of mission to the U.S. embassy to the Holy See; and Emmett Sapp, a foreign service officer at the Vatican.

A source close to the Vatican with knowledge of Pruitt’s meeting with Archbishop Gallagher welcomed Pruitt’s outreach to Vatican leaders on environmental issues.

This is virtually identical to the itinerary of McCarthy’s trip to Rome and the Vatican. It’s also right in line with what Lisa Jackson (who held the office under Obama prior to McCarthy) did on her own G-7 visit in 2009. (We have requested but still not received the cost of Jackson’s trip.) In other words, Scott Pruitt’s team was doing precisely what his predecessors did and somehow managed to do it for half the cost. Yet that turned into a huge scandal in the liberal press, even though they never expressed a scintilla of interest in such records when Barack Obama was president. It’s yet another example of attempted scalp hunting, hoping to generate “scandals” surrounding everyone associated with the Trump administration.

I wonder if this full agenda of Pruitt’s trip to Italy will find its way onto the front page of the Washington Post? Don’t hold your breath.

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