EPA watchdog says Pruitt sought 24/7 protection from start

17 May 2018, 01:26 | Isaac Mcdaniel

Pruitt requested 24/7 security on day one at EPA, internal watchdog says

Scott Pruitt the embattled administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to face questions about his spending and alleged ethical transgressions at a Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday on the agency's budget

In terms of the FY2019 budget, many topics were line items dealing with matters that the senator felt related to Pruitt's past promises, stating "when you [Pruitt] were before the committee a year ago, you said that you would work to return the EPA to its core mission of ensuring clean water, clean air, and clean land, something that we all encourage and support".

"So I share your concerns about some of these decisions".

While agreeing with many of Pruitt's policy moves, Murkowski said that when it comes to his ethics, "I do think there are legitimate questions that need to be answered".

Udall wanted to know, generally, if Pruitt's security detail had ever flashed its lights or used its sirens in a non-emergency situation. The subcommittee's top Democrat, Sen.

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) was more aggressive, calling Pruitt's leadership "disastrous" and slamming the official's "disregard for ethics and disregard for taxpayer dollars" all while endangering the "air we breathe and the water we drink", a reference to the Trump administration's ongoing rollback of Obama-era environmental initiatives. "Those policies were followed to the best of my knowledge".

When Udall pressed him again, Pruitt said he does not recall and that policies were followed by his agents "in all instances".

EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins says in letters to Democratic senators that Pruitt himself initiated the 24-hour protection.

"No, I don't recall that happening", Pruitt said.

"Then that's a gift, that's a violation of federal law", Udall said, noting that subordinates of federal officials are prohibited from providing free services to their bosses. Perrotta has since resigned. In the tweet, the agency appeared to mock Democrats after the long-awaited confirmation of former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as Pruitt's top deputy.

"Scott Pruitt's record of misleading statements, half-truths and outright lies mean he should be put under oath every morning before breakfast, and certainly before he testifies in front of Congress", said EWG President Ken Cook.

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In a hearing in Washington, Sen. Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee focused largely on the agency's policy actions.

"Instead of being asked about the work that you're doing".

"I am concerned that numerous important policy efforts that you are engaged in are being overshadowed because of a series of issues related to you and your management of the agency", she said. Chmielewski told ABC that his boss, EPA Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson, told him: "Administrator Pruitt either wants me to fire you or put you in an office so that he doesn't have to see you again".

A private fund to help Scott Pruitt pay legal bills amid investigations of his taxpayer-funded travel, unorthodox condo rental and security protection will not accept donations from people with business before the EPA.

For his part, Pruitt took the same approach as he did in a pair of contentious House hearings last month, largely steering clear in his opening statement of addressing the dozen probes he is facing on topics such as the installation of a $43,000 soundproof phone booth in his office, a cut-rate condo rental from a lobbyist previous year and his domestic and worldwide travel expenses.

At least one other political aide at the EPA has been criticized for failing to file a financial disclosure form during his time at the agency. Such decisions had made Pruitt and the EPA "a laughingstock", he added.

President Donald Trump expressed his confidence in Pruitt as recently as last week at a meeting with automakers, where Pruitt sat one seat away from Trump.

Perrotta left the EPA at the beginning of the month.

Pruitt is among 70 EPA employees who requested and was granted a filing extension by the EPA, an agency spokesperson confirmed Wednesday.



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