Ethics Office Urges EPA to Investigate, Address Concerns about Pruitt

Casey Dawson
April 12, 2018

Republican senators reacted differently to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt's questionable ethics, with Sen.

The documents he reviewed weren't publicly released with the letter, he said, in order to protect any current security efforts that may be in effect. Tom Carper of DE and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island urged the committee's Republican majority to begin oversight hearings into Pruitt's unusual security precautions.

BuzzFeed journalist Jason Leopold responded to Trump's tweet about death threats against Pruitt and to queries about his original tweet, saying: "I specifically asked for records about death threats against Pruitt".

"This is kind of an unprecedented situation as far as I know", Jennifer Kaplan, a spokeswoman for the EPA Office of Inspector General, told BuzzFeed News, referring to the unusual way the request landed on the IG's desk after originating with the Office of Government Ethics and then getting bounced off EPA's ethics office.

"While security spending was somewhat more than his predecessor, Scott Pruitt has received death threats because of his bold actions at EPA", Pres. Trump said in a Twitter message late Saturday. He also said he reversed them. In addition to orchestrating the United States' exit from the Paris Climate Agreement, in the past year Pruitt's EPA has taken more than 20 deregulatory actions.

Pruitt has done a fantastic job of confirming the wonders of first-class travel - by insisting that's the only way he'll fly.

In a June 9 email to the team, one special agent described the work that went into guarding Pruitt during a trip to Italy.

Politico first reported Tuesday that the career EPA security staffer who wrote the February memo, Mario Caraballo, was sacked shortly after the Democrats' account of it became public.

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These are just a few of the ways the EPA has changed under the Trump administration, but they are nonetheless large and drastic. Those include messages threatening to leave scrapings of old paint at the administrator's office and one telling Pruitt "we are watching you" on the agency's climate-related policies.

The E.P.A. could not be immediately reached for comment on the senator's letter.

Since the spring of 2017, dozens of reports have raised questions about Pruitt's spending of millions in taxpayer dollars on round-the-clock security, a soundproof phone booth and pricey first-class travel.

The broader probe launched by EPA's inspector general into Pruitt's security spending grew out of a 2016 audit into whether members of the administrator's protective detail were improperly paid overtime wages. Susan Collins told CNN's "State of the Union" that she voted against Pruitt being appointed to the EPA post and that his recent actions in the "environmental arena", including the weakening of restrictions on lead, were "reasons enough to validate my decision to oppose his confirmation".

Trump defended those costs, too.

Pruitt's ambitious domestic and global travel led to rapidly escalating costs, with the security detail racking up so much overtime that many hit annual salary caps of about $160,000.

Tapper questioned whether or not she believes Pruitt should resign or be fired.

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