Three Republican senators criticized embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on Sunday's political talk show, but President Trump seemed to sweep away Pruitt's many ethics scandals on Saturday night. "While Security spending was somewhat more than his predecessor, Scott Pruitt has received death threats because of his bold actions at EPA," Trump tweeted. "Rent was about market rate, travel expenses OK. Scott is doing a great job!"
Trump's tweet followed a report in Politico that Pruitt's lobbyist landlords had boot him from his $50-a-night sweetheart rental deal and change the locks last year after he overstayed his welcome by four months, plus a brutal Associated Press article on Pruitt's $3 million in security expenses and counting. AP reached that cost, which includes Pruitt's large 24-hour security detail and first-class flights, from records and an EPA official with direct knowledge of Pruitt's security spending.
Pruitt's schedules show that multiple EPA security agents accompanied him on a family vacation to California, including a day at Disneyland, and to the Rose Bowl and a University of Kentucky baseball game. However, AP says:
On weekend trips home for Sooners football games, when taxpayers weren't paying for his ticket, the EPA official said Pruitt flew coach. He sometimes used a companion pass obtained with frequent flyer miles accumulated by Ken Wagner, a former law partner whom Pruitt hired as a senior adviser at EPA at a salary of more than $172,000. Taxpayers still covered the airfare for the administrator's security detail. [The Associated Press]
EPA officials have justified Pruitt's steep security costs by citing death threats, but "a nationwide search of state and federal court records by AP found no case where anyone has been arrested or charged with threatening Pruitt," AP says, and the EPA didn't detail any threats when asked. BuzzFeed's Jason Leopold tweeted Saturday night that he "filed a #FOIA with EPA for any records of death threats made against Scott Pruitt. EPA said it had zero [records]." Peter Weber