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'Zero Records' of Any Death Threats Against Scott Pruitt, Despite Trump Tweet
11 April 2018, 11:22 | Simon Arnold
The Republican chairman of the Senate Environment Committee voiced support Monday for Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, even as other Republicans expressed concern about Pruitt's ethics and spending on security and travel.
"The American public needs to have confidence that ethics violations, as well as the appearance of ethics violations, are investigated and appropriately addressed", the letter read in part.
EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins is now conducting at least five investigative audits related to Pruitt, including a previously undisclosed probe into outsized spending and alleged timesheet abuse by his swollen security detail.
With the flurry of issues surrounding Pruitt, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said last week that the administration is undertaking a "full review".
Amid the reports, President Donald Trump has repeatedly defended the embattled EPA chief, claiming "death threats" against Pruitt justified the administrator's use of a lavish security detail three times the price of his predecessor's.
"Scott Pruitt has faced an unprecedented amount of death threats against him and these threat assessments are conducted within (the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance) using information collected from the PSD, EPA's Office of Homeland Security, and Inspector General", Wilcox toldCNN. The OGE does not have authority to take action with respect to any possible violation, according to CNN.
The Carper-Whitehouse letter cites a memo from William Stull, special agent on Pruitt's private security detail, to Nino Perrotta, the detail's special agent in charge, which summarizes available threat information and shows 16 threats directed against Pruitt.
However, an EPA spokeswoman said there was no evidence in the emails that Pruitt knew about the pay raises.
She points out that Pruitt, as attorney general, sued the EPA more than a dozen times during the Obama administration.
The AP reported Friday that 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.
Pruitt paid $50 a night to stay in a bedroom of a Capitol Hill townhouse co-owned by Vicki Hart, the wife of a lobbyist named J. Stephen Hart, whose firm represents energy companies with interests that fall under EPA jurisdiction.
Inhofe was one of Pruitt's more vocal supporters prior to his confirmation.
Since the spring of 2017, dozens of reports have raised questions about Pruitt's spending of millions in taxpayer dollars on round-the-clock security, a soundproof phone booth and pricey first-class travel.
It notes, among other things, that in Pruitt's "eagerness to hold high-profile political events promoting his agenda", the man who now leads the EPA has often "been less than rigorous in following important procedures, leading to poorly crafted legal efforts that risk being struck down in court".
Walter Shaub, who until a year ago ran the Office of Government Ethics, told the AP it was likely an ethics violation if Pruitt accepted the airline tickets, even if Wagner didn't pay cash for them.
The EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the OGE's letter.
Pruitt is rewriting the record book for shameless government corruption.
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