Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate change-denying administrator, is most definitely not paranoid. That $25,000 soundproof office? Standard. Pulling agents from the field and onto Pruitt’s private security detail? Necessary, though perhaps not enough.
On Monday, CNN reported that Pruitt’s EPA will shift its policy forcing roughly 18 agents from the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division to take turns protecting Pruitt, who apparently requires around-the-clock protection (the EPA is a “lightening rod,” an assistant inspector general said). Now, the agency plans on hiring a dozen more full time agents whose job would be to protect Pruitt, bringing the potential number of officers on his security detail to nearly 30.
While the position is labeled as an EPA criminal investigator, the job description sounds suspiciously like a body guard. Per CNN:
But an online posting for the jobs described the responsibilities as including “assisting with conducting of advances, motorcade logistics, physical security, site security, and conducting or coordinating investigations of individuals or groups who may present a physical danger to the protectee.”
Landing a job on Pruitt’s security detail pays: agents would receive between $103,000 and $162,000. Before training, travel, and bonuses, Pruitt’s definitely not excessive protection will cost the agency nearly $2 million a year. A hefty price for an agency committed to slashing its budget by 30% next fiscal year — and price that has left members of congress questioning its necessity.
At the beginning of October, Democratic Reps. Grace Napolitano and Peter DeFazio wrote the office of the inspector general requesting an audit of Pruitt’s definitely not exorbitant security demands.
“We have serious concerns that taxpayer funds are being misused in these instances,” the letter said. “We are particularly troubled that these expenditures come at a time when President Trump proposes deep budget cuts for EPA, including an almost 25% reduction in budget for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance, the office that enforces the Nation’s environmental laws.”
As CNN noted, previous EPA administrators have never required security details — let alone one that is more than a dozen people deep. Perhaps the fourfold increase of threats targeting Pruitt, compared to his predecessor, has something to do with his prioritization of the energy industry over basic safety, health, and the environment.