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Watchdog: Massive Spending on Pruitt's Security Not Justified

Office of the Inspector General report released
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2018 4:49 PM CDT
In this May 16, 2018 file photo, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt appears before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on budget on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(Newser) – A whopping $3.5 million was spent on round-the-clock security for former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, one of many agency expenditures that made waves before Pruitt departed the role in July—and a new report from the EPA's internal watchdog says the agency failed to prove the security spending was actually justified. While previous administrators received door-to-door security, Pruitt saw that expanded to 24/7 protection, including the time he spent inside EPA headquarters. The Office of the Inspector General report found that the EPA doesn't have an approved process to determine when it's necessary to increase security for an administrator, and it was Pruitt's office that made the final determination, Politico reports. The EPA was supposed to conduct a threat assessment within two weeks of Pruitt taking the helm to determine whether the increased security was justified, but apparently never did so, the report says.

"Failure to properly justify the level of protective services provided to the Administrator has allowed costs to increase from $1.6 million to $3.5 million in just 11 months," the report states. But it does not accuse Pruitt of anything illegal. In explaining the increased security—Pruitt had a security detail more than three times the size of his predecessor—agency officials cited an increased number of threats against Pruitt and his family, as well as people protesting his public appearances. But the OIG report, released Tuesday, says officials relied on a 2017 memo that was not a formal threat assessment, and that they made the decision to increase security six months before that memo was prepared. "We have not received any documented evidence or justification supporting the decision to continue to provide 24/7 protective services," the report says, per the AP. The OIG is still investigating Pruitt's habit of flying exclusively first-class, his infamous $43,000 secure phone booth, and more. The House Oversight Committee, White House, and the Office of Management and Budget are conducting their own probes. (Read more Scott Pruitt stories.)

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