AP reports EPA's Pruitt spent millions on security, travel
WASHINGTON (AP) — Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt's concern with his safety came at a steep cost to taxpayers as his swollen security detail blew through overtime budgets and at times diverted officers away from investigating environmental crimes.
Altogether, the agency spent millions of dollars for a 20-member full-time detail that is more than three times the size of his predecessor's part-time security contingent.
EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox cited "unprecedented" threats against Pruitt and his family as justification for extraordinary security expenses such as first-class airfare to keep him separate from most passengers – a perk generally not available to federal employees.
But Pruitt apparently did not consider that upgrade vital to his safety when taxpayers weren't footing the bill for his ticket. An EPA official with direct knowledge of Pruitt's security spending said the EPA chief flew coach on personal trips back to his home state of Oklahoma.
The EPA official spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.
New details in Pruitt's expansive spending for security and travel emerged from agency sources and documents reviewed by The Associated Press. They come as the embattled EPA leader fends off allegations of profligate spending and ethical missteps that have imperiled his job.
Shortly after arriving in Washington, Pruitt 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.
The EPA official knowledgeable about Pruitt's security spending says Perrotta oversaw a rapid expansion of the EPA chief's security detail to accommodate guarding him day and night, even on family vacations and when Pruitt was home in Oklahoma.