Scott Pruitt requested and received 24/7 security starting on his first day at EPA

Washington Post

Scott Pruitt began receiving round-the-clock security from the moment he stepped foot inside the Environmental Protection Agency in February 2017, the agency's inspector general said Monday.

"EPA's Protective Service Detail began providing 24/7 coverage of the Administrator the first day he arrived," Inspector General Arthur Elkins wrote in response to inquiries from Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Thomas Carper of Delaware about what threats prompted Pruitt's nonstop security, which has cost in excess of $3 million. "The decision was made by the Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics and Training after being informed that Mr. Pruitt requested 24/7 protection once he was confirmed as Administrator."

The inspector general's office, which investigates threats made against any EPA employees, "played no role in this decision," Elkins added.

Agency spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in a statement Monday that "as the report says, EPA's Office of Inspector General does not determine security assessments. EPA's Protective Service Detail handles security decisions and this particular decision was made before Administrator Pruitt arrived at EPA."

Some Cabinet members routinely receive heightened security as part of their job, including the secretaries of defense, state and homeland security. FBI agents accompany the attorney general around the clock. But for other Cabinet posts, the level of protection varies based on circumstances. Early in the Trump administration, for example, controversial Education Secretary Betsy DeVos received a full protective detail, at an estimated initial cost of $1 million a month.

At the EPA, no prior administrator has received 24/7 protection. Pruitt's immediate predecessor, Gina McCarthy, typically had a security detail that accompanied her to work each day, to meetings and events, and dropped her off at home each night. The detail also traveled with her on official business. But McCarthy's detail was roughly a third the size of the one that now guards Pruitt.

Agency officials, including Pruitt, have said repeatedly that he has experienced more threats than previous administrators. And Pruitt has maintained that he left decisions about the size and intensity of his security detail, as well as related decisions such as traveling first class for safety, to Pasquale "Nino" Perrotta, the special agent in charge of protecting him.

Perrotta, who has been under scrutiny for the expenditures related to Pruitt's security and travel, retired from the agency late last month.

"A threat to a federal employee's personal security is extremely serious, but so is using security as pretext for special treatment on the public dime," Whitehouse and Carper said in a statement Monday. "This letter raises troubling questions about whether Administrator Pruitt told the truth during his testimony before the House. Now more than ever, Mr. Pruitt should come clean about his spending of taxpayer dollars on all manner of extravagances, and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle should demand he do so."

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