Sunday, 09 December, 2018

US EPA chief Pruitt asked for 24/7 security from Day One -watchdog

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies before the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Interior Environment and Related Agenci EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies before the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Interior Environment and Related Agenci
Steven Clarke | 16 May, 2018, 21:38

Thomas R. Carper (Del.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), in which then-EPA special agent Pasquale "Nino" Perrotta informed colleagues that the "Administrator encourages the use" of lights and sirens.

Pruitt later promoted Perrotta to lead his personal protective detail.

The EPA inspector general has already begun several reviews of EPA spending by Pruitt and his aides, which has also attracted congressional scrutiny.

Under sharp questioning by Sen.

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, for example, said on Tuesday he would join the chorus of lawmakers calling for Pruitt's ouster unless the EPA chief rolls back the agency's use of waivers exempting refineries from their obligation to mix ethanol into fuel.

The inspector general's office "played no role in this decision", Elkins added.

Ethics watchdogs and federal investigators are conducting at least a dozen inquiries into Pruitt's reliance on first-class air travel, expensive trips overseas, use of emergency lights and sirens to cut traffic in Washington, D.C., round-the-clock security protection, trips to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl, unapproved raises to top staff, the purchase of a soundproof phone booth, and a sweetheart condo deal on Capitol Hill that was arranged by an energy lobbyist, among other things.

"I'm being asked, really constantly asked, to comment on security and on housing and on travel". A Government Accountability Office probe recently concluded that the EPA had violated the law by spending $43,000 on a soundproof phone booth for Pruitt's office without notifying lawmakers first.

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Udall accused Pruitt of continuing to flout legal requirements to inform lawmakers about that and other big-ticket spending, and "treating your position of public trust as a golden ticket for extravagant travel and fine dining".

Pruitt in April showed his ability to bat away those questions from Democrats when he appeared before two House panels.

Protesters sitting behind Pruitt silently rose up twice in the first minutes of the hearing, once waving signs and once simply standing up in unison, wearing green T-shirts with slogans saying "Impeach Pruitt".

EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins says Pruitt himself initiated the 24-hour-a day protection. The revelation about the early timing of the security request undermines Pruitt's claims to Congress earlier this year that the stepped-up security was a response to threats against him related to his controversial rollbacks of environmental protections.

EPA chief Scott Pruitt is denying that a member of his press staff sought to plant negative media reports about Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in the hopes of deflecting attention from Pruitt's problems.

A top Republican senator worries that the ethical cloud hanging over President Donald Trump's top environmental official is overshadowing the administration's pro-business regulatory moves. Asked Friday if he still had confidence in the EPA chief, Trump told reporters, "I do".

"What a silly reason you had to fly first class, because of a danger to you, unless you flew first class", Leahy told Pruitt at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing for the EPA.

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