pcloudy.png
Wednesday July 17th, 2019 1:15PM

EPA watchdog faults agency for Pruitt's 24/7 security costs

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency failed to properly justify spending more than $3.5 million on around-the-clock security for former head Scott Pruitt, including nearly $1 million in travel costs for his bodyguards, the agency's internal watchdog concluded on Tuesday.

The EPA allowed Pruitt and his team to increase the security detail to 19 agents, up from six for Pruitt's predecessor, without proving the need, "an undocumented decision (that) represents an inefficient use of agency resources," the inspector general concluded.

Pruitt left the EPA in July after less than 1½ 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 same 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 the Trump 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."

"This report confirms what we suspected — Mr. Pruitt's excessive, 24/7 security detail and the costs it incurred while Pruitt traveled the world first-class on the taxpayers' dime was not properly justified and was not based on a security threat analysis on risks to Pruitt," Carper said Tuesday.

Ken Cook, president of the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, said Pruitt — an avid enforcer of President Donald Trump's mission to roll back regulation that the Trump administration deems unfriendly to business — "not only held the EPA's mission in contempt, but saw his post as a chance to pamper himself on the American taxpayer's dime."

The EPA did not immediately comment on the inspector general's findings.

The inspector general's report says the agency contended "the level of protection is an administration decision, informed by the awareness of risks and the potential impact of those risks to the efficient functioning of the agency."

In testimony before a Senate committee in May, Pruitt sought to shift responsibility for the decision to expand his security detail to subordinates, testifying that EPA security officials made the decision to go to around-the-clock protection before his arrival at the agency in response to an assessment of threats.

He then read aloud from an internal report, compiled months after the decision was made, of negative statements made against him through social media posts. None of the perceived threats he cited resulted in any arrests.

"Those decisions are made by current law enforcement officials at the agency," Pruitt said. Asked whether he had directed that his security to be increased, Pruitt demurred: "I was aware of communications taking place. I was not at the agency at the time. I was actually — that was before confirmation."

The Associated Press first reported in April that Pruitt's preoccupation with his safety cost taxpayers more than $3 million in his first year as his swollen security detail blew through overtime budgets and at times diverted officers away from investigating environmental crimes.

____

Michael Biesecker contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Feinstein questions Kavanaugh commitment to Roe
The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh fits the mold of the "anti-choice and pro-gun" nominee that President Donald Trump had promised to put forward
11:30AM ( 13 minutes ago )
The Latest: Trump weighs in on NBC-Ronan Farrow dispute
The Latest: President Donald Trump is joining criticism of NBC News for passing last year on journalist Ronan Farrow's investigation into alleged sexual misconduct by Harvey Weinstein
11:30AM ( 13 minutes ago )
US picks team without Isner for Davis Cup semi vs Croatia
The U.S. Davis Cup team without John Isner when it plays Croatia because his wife expecting baby this month
11:19AM ( 25 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Kerry Perry quits as president of scandal-hit USA Gymnastics
Kerry Perry quits as president of scandal-hit USA Gymnastics, which loses faith in her leadership
11:04AM ( 40 minutes ago )
Chaos marks start of Kavanaugh confirmation hearing
Chaos marks start of Kavanaugh confirmation hearing; Democrats seek delay
10:35AM ( 1 hour ago )
Garland's stolen ruby slippers from 'Wizard of Oz' are found
Federal authorities say they have recovered a pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in "The Wizard of Oz" that were stolen from a museum in her Minnesota hometown 13 years ago
10:33AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Trump says Sessions' DOJ has placed GOP in midterm jeopardy
Trump tweets that federal indictments against two Republican congressmen placed the GOP in midterm election jeopardy
8:56AM ( 2 hours ago )
Gordon strengthens, expected to hit Gulf Coast as hurricane
Tropical Storm Gordon is continuing to strengthen and is expected to become a hurricane late Tuesday when it hits the central U.S. Gulf Coast, including coastal Mississippi
8:46AM ( 2 hours ago )
China's Xi to send top ally to North Korea anniversary
Chinese President Xi Jinping is sending a top political ally to attend celebrations of the 70th anniversary of North Korea's founding this weekend
8:02AM ( 3 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
The Latest: Feinstein questions Kavanaugh commitment to Roe
The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh fits the mold of the "anti-choice and pro-gun" nominee that President Donald Trump had promised to put forward
11:30AM ( 13 minutes ago )
The Latest: Trump weighs in on NBC-Ronan Farrow dispute
The Latest: President Donald Trump is joining criticism of NBC News for passing last year on journalist Ronan Farrow's investigation into alleged sexual misconduct by Harvey Weinstein
11:30AM ( 13 minutes ago )
US picks team without Isner for Davis Cup semi vs Croatia
The U.S. Davis Cup team without John Isner when it plays Croatia because his wife expecting baby this month
11:19AM ( 25 minutes ago )
French president names 2 new ministers in mini-reshuffle
French President Emmanuel Macron has picked a political ally and a former swimming world champion to plug two holes in his government left by the unexpected departures of the ministers for the environment and for sports
11:17AM ( 26 minutes ago )
Over 300 people evacuated from flooded Kansas college town
Authorities say heavy rain has forced more than 300 people to evacuate their homes in the flooded Kansas college town of Manhattan
11:08AM ( 35 minutes ago )