Report: EPA Chief Receiving 'Unprecedented' Security
Agency says 24/7 protection is needed because Scott Pruitt is receiving lots of death threats
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2017 7:31 AM CDT
In this June 2, 2017, file photo, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks to the media at the White House.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

(Newser) – Scott Pruitt's travel, and how he's been traveling, has already come under fire. Now the EPA chief is under the microscope for what CNN calls an "unprecedented level" of protection. That includes the reported hiring of 12 new security officers, which TPM notes would bring the total number keeping tabs on Pruitt to 30. Using public documents, CNN estimates the cost for the entire security team—not counting training, travel, or gear—at $2 million per year, prompting some members of Congress to ask if this is a "potential waste or abuse of taxpayer dollars." The reason, especially considering no other EPA head has ever received 24/7 protection: The EPA is a "lightning rod," and Pruitt is paying the price for it, per the agency's inspector general's office, which says it's investigated more than 70 threats against Pruitt so far.

That's "at least … four to five times the number of threats against Mr. Pruitt" than Gina McCarthy, his predecessor under Obama, assistant IG Patrick Sullivan says. Sullivan adds the threats are coming from "both sides of the spectrum": those who think the EPA isn't doing enough to protect the environment, and those who think the agency is overregulating. Pruitt is also said to be getting "security enhancements" at his DC office, including card readers to control access and a soundproof phone booth—which CNN says together will cost more than $40,000, per purchasing and contracting documents. Two Democratic Congress members, Peter DeFazio and Grace Napolitano, have crafted a letter to the IG asking for a look at this spending, which they say is "symptomatic of a troubling culture that appears to have swept through this administration … from the President on down."

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