Dems claim Pruitt's former security chief intervened to hire business associate

Dems claim Pruitt's former security chief intervened to hire business associate

Two Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee are requesting that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inspector general (IG) look into the business dealings of Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Watchdog opens investigation into Interior chief | Judge halts Pruitt truck pollution rule decision | Winners, losers in EPA, Interior spending bill amendments Sanders endures press grilling over Russia Court blocks EPA policy against enforcing truck pollution rule MORE's former head of security.

Ranking member Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: Fewer than half of school districts test for lead | Dems slam proposed changes to Endangered Species Act | FEMA avoids climate change when discussing plan for future storms Dems slam proposed changes to Endangered Species Act Full interview: Democratic candidate Kerri Evelyn Harris discusses her Senate campaign in Delaware MORE (D-Del.) and Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate Dems protest vote on controversial court pick Who is Andrew Wheeler, EPA's new acting chief? Congress can protect midterm elections with the Disclose Act MORE (D-R.I.) asked the IG office Tuesday to look into a number of issues related to Pasquale Perrotta's employment and role at the EPA, including his work at an outside security firm he partly owned, his involvement in choosing Edwin Steinmetz — his outside business associate — to conduct security sweeps at the agency, and how he worked with Pruitt to advance his security needs.

The two senators have been active in investigating allegations surrounding Pruitt and have interviewed a number of former and current EPA employees about Pruitt's security requests and other ethics concerns.

Perrotta retired early from the EPA in early May, citing media pressure on his family.


In their letter to the IG office, the senators claim Perrotta had been authorized to operate his security company, Sequoia Security Group, while working at the EPA, but failed to reauthorize his request after five years. Citing emails they obtained between Perrotta and EPA security and facilities management, the Democrats said Perrotta additionally sought to hire Steinmetz to help do a security sweep of Pruitt's office without alerting staff of potential conflicts of interest.

"Contrary to Mr. Perrotta's claims, it is far from clear that it was all 'out in the open.' We believe these communications show Mr. Perrotta was far more involved in the events surrounding the Steinmetz sweep than he claims, that the 'issues' related selecting a vendor were career officials trying to follow proper EPA procedures, and that EPA funds may have been spent in violation of EPA contracting policy," the senators wrote.

Bother senators argued that Perrotta's retirement should not affect the investigation.

"In our view his retirement does not vitiate the need for your review because of the potential that other EPA process and procedures that should have imposed oversight on Mr. Perrotta's activities were either not followed or not effective," they wrote.

The senators highlighted that they had both previously sent requests to both Pruitt and the Designated Agency Ethics Official Kevin Minoli to get answers and documents related to their concerns but received no response.

It was reported in December that EPA hired Steinmetz last March on a $3,000 “communications audit” to sweep Pruitt's office for listening devices. Since then, internal EPA reports has surfaced that show officials labelled the sweep as failing to meet government standards.