Published: Thu, April 12, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

EPA documents question justification for Pruitt's 24/7 security detail, first-class travel

EPA documents question justification for Pruitt's 24/7 security detail, first-class travel

The ex-EPA employee said Pruitt also requested leather-bound notebooks and fountain pens featuring Pruitt's name in prominent letters.

While the chairman made it clear he will not be investigating Pruitt in the near future, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is pressing ahead.

"Trey Gowdy (R-SC) questions former Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan during a hearing on Russian active measures during the 2016 election campaign" in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., May 23, 2017.

Gowdy also said in the letter he had not received documents that referred to "specific, ongoing threats associated with the Administrator's air travel", which the agency had said were the basis for obtaining Pruitt's first-class air tickets in a letter to Gowdy from EPA Associate Administrator Troy Lyons, dated March 20. The salary and travel costs of his detail alone already have reached almost $3 million, according to an EPA official.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt listens as President Donald Trump holds a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C., on April 9, 2018.

The Democrats also obtained a February 14 assessment from EPA's Office of Homeland Security Intelligence that concluded "EPA Intelligence has not identified any specific, credible, direct threat to the EPA administrator".

Pruitt has been under fire in recent weeks for reports that he rented a condo for $50 a night from the wife of a lobbyist with business before his agency, spent at least $120,000 in taxpayer-funded first-class travel, and retaliated against staff members who questioned his spending and the need for a security force more than three times the size of past administrators. Pruitt had planned to travel to Mexico this week, according to multiple agency officials, but has postponed the visit.

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The Times reports that Pruitt was, in general, not a big fan of the EPA logo.

Shortly after arriving in Washington, Pruitt, 49, demoted the career staff member heading his security detail and replaced him with EPA Senior Special Agent Pasquale "Nino" Perrotta, a former Secret Service agent who operates a private security company.

As a result, Gowdy asked the EPA to provide a slew of documents related to Pruitt's controversial rental, including documents and communications about how the lease agreement came to be and whether the EPA head's use of the condo was in line with the terms of the lease. Pruitt's premium status gave him and his security chief access to VIP airport lounges.

A nationwide search of state and federal court records by AP found no case where anyone has been arrested or charged with making violent threats against Pruitt.

Defenders of Pruitt have maintained that his outsized spending is necessary because he faces "unprecedented" death threats.

"Administrator Pruitt is focused on advancing President Trump's agenda of regulatory certainty and environmental stewardship", EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said Wednesday.

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