Pruitt spent $3.5 million on security during first year as EPA head

Pruitt spent $3.5 million on security during first year as EPA head
© Greg Nash

Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittGovernment watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas MORE spent nearly $3.5 million on security during his first year as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to an agency breakdown released Friday.

Pruitt's round the clock security detail racked up the high costs through both travel and payroll expenses — costing taxpayers more than $760,000 in travel and more than $2.7 million in pay during the administrator's first year.

The costs for his detail, which have accompanied Pruitt on both international trips like Morocco and Italy and to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl, are significantly higher than the amounts previous administrators spent, the data shows.

In comparison, EPA spent just $1.6 million on security for former EPA head Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyCalifornia commits to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 Overnight Energy: Watchdog faults EPA over Pruitt security costs | Court walks back order on enforcing chemical plant rule | IG office to probe truck pollution study EPA unveils new Trump plan gutting Obama power plant rules MORE during her last year in the post.

The EPA maintains that Pruitt's increased security is necessary due to higher threats against the administrator.

“Administrator Pruitt has faced an unprecedented amount of death threats against him and to provide transparency EPA will post the costs of his security detail and pro-actively release these numbers on a quarterly basis," EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in a statement. "Americans should all agree that members of the President’s cabinet should be kept safe from violent threats.” 

However, Pruitt has recently been challenged for his claims that the security detail is a response to security risks following reports that he received 24/7 security starting his first day in office. Internal emails obtained by The Hill showed that the Trump transition team set up security due to fears that Pruitt's anticipated iron fist against EPA regulations could generate public ire.

The revelation about Pruitt’s security spending is the latest in a string of expenditures that have been made public this year.

On Wednesday, The Hill reported that an internal document showed Pruitt spent at least $9,600 on office furnishing that included Smithsonian artwork, a refurbished desk and other framed items. Pruitt’s travel spending has also been the subject of intense criticism.

In March, Politico reported that he spent $105,000 on first-class airline travel during his first year.

Pruitt in testimony to Congress dismissed the controversies swirling around him as "fiction" pushed by opponents of his agenda.