Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt's concern with his safety came at a steep cost to taxpayers as his swollen security detail blew through overtime budgets and at times diverted officers away from investigating environmental crimes. Altogether, the agency spent millions of dollars for a 20-member full-time detail that is more than three times the size of his predecessor's part-time security contingent. EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox cited "unprecedented" threats against Pruitt and his family as justification for extraordinary security expenses such as first-class airfare to keep him separate from most passengers—a perk generally not available to federal employees. But Pruitt apparently did not consider that upgrade vital to his safety when taxpayers weren't footing the bill for his ticket.
An EPA official with direct knowledge of Pruitt's security spending said the EPA chief flew coach on personal weekend trips back to his home state of Oklahoma. The source said Pruitt sometimes used a companion pass obtained with frequent flyer miles accumulated by Ken Wagner, a former law partner whom Pruitt hired as a senior adviser at the EPA at a salary of more than $172,000. Taxpayers still covered the airfare for the administrator's security detail. The EPA official said total security costs approached $3 million when pay is added to travel expenses. The EPA official said there are legitimate concerns about Pruitt's safety, given public opposition to his rollbacks of anti-pollution measures, but a nationwide search of state and federal court records by the AP found no case where anyone has been arrested or charged with threatening Pruitt. The AP has much more here.
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