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EPA chief busted for lying about his security detail from day one

Scott Pruitt said he needed a full-time security detail after he received a wave of threats as head of the EPA. Turns out he made the request before he was even in office.

By Eric Boehlert - May 15, 2018
Scott Pruitt

Another Scott Pruitt lie has been exposed, this one about his need for unprecedented, around-the-clock protection for his job overseeing the Environmental Protection Agency.

Trying to explain away the $3 million in taxpayer money that’s already been spent on Pruitt’s bizarre 24/7 security detail, the scandal-plagued EPA had insisted it was because of threats he received after he started on the job.

But in a response this week to a letter sent by Democratic Sens. Sheldon WhiteHouse of Rhode Island and Thomas Carper of Delaware, the EPA’s inspector general confirms that the agency’s lavish and costly plans to protect Pruitt were put in place before he ever started working for Trump.

And yes, Pruitt himself demanded the massive upgrade.

“EPA’s Protective Service Detail began providing 24/7 coverage of the Administrator the first day he arrived,” Inspector General Arthur Elkins wrote.

The EPA’s original, hard-to-believe spin about responding to a wave of threats didn’t add up when the agency was forced to document some of the alleged threats on Pruitt. Turns out one of the instances came during a brief airport encounter when somebody yelled that he and his radical, pro-business agenda was “fucking up the environment.”

Another supposed “threat” was, as BuzzFeed reported, “someone drawing a mustache on Pruitt’s face on the cover of Newsweek and taping the magazine inside of an elevator at an EPA building.”

Also, on Tuesday it was revealed that the bill for Pruitt’s outsize security detail was so expansive that the EPA had to pull staffers off its criminal investigation unit in order to shadow the new EPA chief around.

This is a part of Pruitt’s hallmark corruption. Last month we learned that his demand that his office be fitted with a $43,000 “secure phone booth,” even though the EPA headquarters already had two such booths, violated federal spending laws.

So add more logs to the Pruitt scandal fire.

It’s gotten so bad that the conservative Weekly Standard magazine on Monday publicly called on him to resign.

“We reject the common assumption that public officials should get a pass so long as they hold the right policy opinions, whatever those opinions are,” the magazine announced. “We share Pruitt’s views on environmental deregulation and value his accomplishments in office. But the time has come for him to go.”

Meanwhile, how outlandish have Pruitt’s security demands been? It’s three times the amount of protection Obama’s EPA chief received.

And a previous EPA director during a Republican administration, Christine Todd Whitman, recently confirmed that she would often walk to work alone, without any protection. And that was in the wake of the 9/11 terror attack.

“The ethical tone-deafness of this man is just unbelievable, and it’s costing us taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Whitman said of Pruitt recently. “And people have got to start getting upset about it.”

Pruitt is the first EPA head in history to be guarded by a full-time security detail.

And now we know Pruitt’s agency lied about what it was needed.

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