Shared from the 2018-09-05 The Denver Post eEdition
Watchdog faults EPA’s security costs
By Ellen Knickmeyer
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON» The Environmental Protection Agency failed to properly justify spending more than $3.5 million on round-the-clock security for former head Scott Pruitt, including nearly $1 million in travel costs for his bodyguards, the agency’s internal watchdog concluded Tuesday.
The EPA allowed Pruitt and his team to increase the security detail to 19 agents, up from six for Pruitt’s predecessor, without proving the need, “an undocumented decision (that) represents an inefficient use of agency resources,” the inspector general concluded.
Pruitt left the EPA in July after fewer than 1½ years and amid unending revelations of scandals over his spending and other allegations of abuses of office. The new acting EPA administrator, Andrew Wheeler, ended the unprecedented full-time security detail that same month.
The inspector general’s report said Pruitt’s security costs were more than double those of his predecessor, Gina McCarthy, during her last year. It also cited $106,507 in overtime — some of it in 2016, before the Trump administration — for security that lacked proper authorization.
Travel costs for Pruitt’s bodyguards more than tripled — to $739,580 — from February 2017 to December 2017, owing to Pruitt’s insistence on 24-hour-a-day security and on premium-class travel for himself and a bodyguard, the report said.
Sen. Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware and a vocal critic as ethics allegations mounted against Pruitt, called the agency’s security spending “simply unacceptable.”
“This report confirms what we suspected — Mr. Pruitt’s excessive, 24/7 security detail and the costs it incurred while Pruitt traveled the world first class on the taxpayers’ dime was not properly justified and was not based on a security threat analysis on risks to Pruitt,” Carper said Tuesday.
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