Two Democratic senators on Tuesday called for hearings to scrutinize the millions of dollars EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has spent on a massive security detail and first class flights, among other supposed security measures, saying internal EPA documents dispute Pruitt’s justification for the expenses.
“Documents provided to us by EPA official(s) suggest the agency has relied on questionable ‘threats’ to the Administrator, including reports of non-violent protests, negative feedback about the Administrator’s actions, or other First Amendment protected activity, to justify millions of dollars in additional security spending, including first-class air travel, as compared to his predecessors at the agency,” Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) wrote to the chairman of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY).
The senators pointed to Pruitt’s sprawling security detail — which he’s taken with him on personal trips home to Oklahoma and to events like the Rose Bowl — and first class flights Pruitt has taken “ostensibly to more effectively protect the Administrator while travelling [sic] by air,” among other expenses. (Read the full letter, published online by CNN, here.)
Whitehouse and Carper referred to similar past claims in their letter and said: “These assertions do not appear to be consistent with the non-public EPA documents we have obtained and enclose here.”
The senators focused in large part on an October memo sent by a member of Pruitt’s detail to the special agent in charge of the detail, Nino Perrotta. Perrotta operates a private security company on the side and was Pruitt’s pick to the lead the detail.
The 16 threats described in the memo, the senators said, included protesters attempting to disrupt a private event at which Pruitt gave a speech and an individual who wrote on social media that, according to the memo, “he is not happy with some of the Administrator’s policies and wanted to express his displeasure.” None of the incidents listed in the memo “concerned air travel,” the senators said.
And a February review of the October security memo by the EPA’s Office of Homeland Security Intelligence Team concluded that it “DOES NOT” (emphasis original) use “sound analysis or articulate relevant ‘threat specific’ information appropriate to draw any resource or level of threat conclusions regarding the protection posture for the Administrator.” The same team was quoted as saying it hadn’t seen any evidence that Pruitt would be at greater risk on a commercial flight than any other passenger.