EPA records question need for Pruitt’s 24/7 security, senators say

EPA records question need for Pruitt’s 24/7 security, senators say
© Greg Nash

Internal Environmental Protection Agency documents don’t support the EPA's contention that Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy & Environment — Biden makes return to pre-Trump national monument boundaries official Trump-era EPA board member sues over firing EPA bans use of pesticide linked to developmental problems in children MORE needs round-the-clock security and first-class flights, two leading Democratic senators say.

Sens. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperIs the Biden administration afraid of trade? Congress sends 30-day highway funding patch to Biden after infrastructure stalls Senate to try to pass 30-day highway bill Saturday after GOP objection MORE (D-Del.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOn The Money — It all comes down to Bernie and Joe Manchin, Tester voice opposition to carbon tax Democrats scramble for climate alternatives MORE (D-R.I.) said on Tuesday that various records question the EPA’s contentions that Pruitt has faced an “unprecedented” number of death threats and that the agency “has identified specific, ongoing threats associated with the administrator’s air travel.”

“These assertions do not appear to be consistent with the non-public EPA documents we have obtained,” the two senators wrote in a letter to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSenate appears poised to advance first Native American to lead National Park Service Sunday shows preview: Senate votes to raise debt ceiling; Facebook whistleblower blasts company during testimony The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit MORE (R-Wyo.).

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Carper, the top Democrat on the panel, and Whitehouse, a senior member, are asking Barrasso to convene oversight hearings into Pruitt’s security practices.

Carper and Whitehouse said the agency's Office of Homeland Security Intelligence Team found that Pruitt’s security detail “has not identified any specific credible direct threat to the EPA administrator.”

EPA had also requested a pair of Secret Service reports, neither of which found “reports of behaviors of interest directed toward EPA Administrator Pruitt,” the lawmakers added.

“It is hard to reconcile the public statements of EPA, and the President, with these internal and external assessments,” the Democrats wrote.

“It may be that the materials we have been provided are incomplete and that EPA has additional information that justifies its public position. However, another view is that certain factions within EPA have justified the exorbitant taxpayer spending incurred by the administrator’s first-class travel and large entourage of security personnel through unsubstantiated claims about threats to his security, either at the direction of the administrator himself or others in the agency.”

Pruitt has been under fire for months for how he spends taxpayer money. A 24-7 protection detail with 19 agents — which The Associated Press said has cost $3 million — is a focus, as is first-class travel in the name of security.

President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump defends indicted GOP congressman House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt Youngkin calls for investigation into Loudoun County School Board amid sexual assault allegations MORE indicated this past weekend that Pruitt’s security spending is acceptable to him.

“While Security spending was somewhat more than his predecessor, Scott Pruitt has received death threats because of his bold actions at EPA,” he tweeted.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox also defended Pruitt’s practices.

“Scott Pruitt has faced an unprecedented amount of death threats against him and these threat assessments are conducted within [Office of Enforcement] using information collected from the [security detail], EPA’s Office of Homeland Security, and Inspector General. Americans should all agree that members of the president’s cabinet should be kept safe from these violent threats,” Wilcox said in a statement.

Carper and Whitehouse said the EPA justified Pruitt’s security spending based in part on an October memo summarizing the supposed threats against him.

That memo described protesters disrupting a speech Pruitt gave, a social media post expressing a desire to speak with Pruitt about the author’s displeasure and a postcard saying, in part, “CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL!!! We are watching you.”

“Notably, none of the incidents listed in this report concerned air travel and the only threat to Administrator Pruitt currently being prosecuted by a United States Attorney’s office was a threat made to him and his predecessor Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Biden administration breaks down climate finance roadmap Obama to attend Glasgow climate summit White House puts together climate finance strategy MORE,” the senators said.