Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt has spent $3.5 million in taxpayer dollars on personal security in just his first year in the position, CBS News revealed Friday.
This is far more than his two predecessors from the Obama administration, who CBS News says spent between $1.6 to $2 million annually on security.
EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox defended the spending, telling CBS News that an “unprecedented amount of death threats” necessitated the additional costs. Wilcox also promised that the agency would continue to release the costs of Pruitt’s security detail on quarterly basis in an effort to be transparent.
This revelation, however, did not sit well with some lawmakers on Capitol Hill. “Everything Scott Pruitt said about his wasteful spending turned out to be false,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) said in a blistering statement.
“Internal EPA documents show that he requested unprecedented security before taking office, then exaggerated threats against him to justify the expense afterwards,” Beyer continued. “Pruitt tried to downplay his travel costs, justified them through false comparisons to his predecessors, and hid the extent to which these trips were orchestrated by lobbyists and industry. When aides objected or came forward, he had them sidelined or punished.”
Pruitt has been plagued in recent months by numerous ethics issues, leading to at least 10 open investigations into his conduct as EPA administrator, and forcing Pruitt to hire a white-collar defense lawyer.
His suspiciously cheap rent for a Washington, D.C. condo that just happened to be owned by the wife of a top energy lobbyist blew up into a massive scandal. His schedule is filled with speeches to industry groups he is supposed to regulate. And his response to another scandal concerning huge pay raises for two EPA staffers was so unconvincing that not even Fox News was buying it.
Pruitt’s ethics woes show little sign of going away. Just last week during a congressional hearing, he inadvertently revealed that he had an EPA employee help him house-hunt during her personal time without paying her, a violation of federal ethics guidelines.
Pruitt is not the only Trump administration official with spending problems. Fellow officials have spent millions in taxpayer dollars on frivolous items such as antique desks, office renovations, and dining sets. Pruitt may have outdone them all — and broken the law, according to a government report — with his $43,000 soundproof booth, however.
He still has the backing of at least one person, though. His boss, President Trump, maintains that Pruitt is doing a “great job.”