EPA watchdog faults Pruitt’s $3.5 million security costs


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

The Environmental Protection Agency failed to document any threats or security risks that warranted spending more than $3.5 million on unprecedented around-the-clock bodyguards for then-chief Scott Pruitt, the agency’s internal watchdog concluded on Tuesday.

The EPA allowed Pruitt and his administrative team to increase the security detail to 19 agents, up from six for Pruitt’s predecessor.

That “undocumented decision represents an inefficient use of agency resources,” the inspector general concluded.

EPA spokesman Michael Abboud said in an email that officials had to look at more than specific and serious threats, or the lack of them, in deciding how much security an official needs.

Abboud cited gun attacks without warning on GOP lawmakers at a baseball practice last year and on a Democratic congresswoman in Arizona in 2011.

“Lack of a threat does not mean that there is no risk or that protective services are not appropriate,” the EPA spokesman wrote.

Pruitt left the EPA in July after less than 11/2 years and amid unending revelations of scandals over his spending and other allegations of abuses of office. The new acting EPA administrator, Andrew Wheeler, ended the unprecedented full-time security detail that month.

The inspector general’s report said Pruitt’s security costs were more than double those of his predecessor, Gina McCarthy, during her last year.

It also cited $106,507 in overtime, some of it in 2016, before President Donald Trump’s administration, for security that lacked proper authorization.

Travel costs for Pruitt’s bodyguards more than tripled, to $739,580, from February 2017 to December 2017, owing to Pruitt’s insistence on 24-hour-a-day security and on premium-class travel for himself and a bodyguard, the report said.

Sen. Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware and a vocal critic as ethics allegations mounted against Pruitt, called the agency’s security spending “simply unacceptable.”

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