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.
New details in Pruitt’s expansive spending for security and travel emerged from agency sources and documents. They come as the embattled EPA leader fends off allegations of profligate spending and ethical missteps that have imperiled his job.
Editor’s Note: Profligate is a word here which means a reckless, extravagant, and wasteful use of resources.
Shortly after arriving in Washington, Pruitt demoted the career staff member heading his security detail after he didn’t give Pruitt permission to turn on emergency sirens and recklessly run traffic lights for literally no good reason and replaced him with EPA Senior Special Agent Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta, a former Secret Service agent who operates a private security company.
An EPA official with direct knowledge of Pruitt’s security spending says Perrotta oversaw a rapid expansion of the EPA chief’s security detail to accommodate guarding him day and night, even on family vacations and when Pruitt was home in Oklahoma. The EPA official spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.
Perrotta also signed off on new procedures that let Pruitt fly first-class on commercial airliners, with the security chief typically sitting next to him with other security staff farther back in the plane. Pruitt’s premium status gave him and his security chief access to VIP airport lounges.
Pruitt’s ambitious domestic and international travel led to rapidly escalating costs, with the security detail racking up so much overtime that many hit annual salary caps of about $160,000. The demands of providing 24-hour coverage even meant taking some investigators away from field work, such as when Pruitt traveled to California for a family vacation.
The EPA official said total security costs approached $3 million when pay is added to travel expenses.