Democratic lawmaker letter casts doubt on Pruitt security needs

US President Donald Trump listens to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt speak after announcing the US will withdraw from the Paris accord in the Rose Garden of the White House

On Monday morning, an official from the Office of Government Ethics sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency's top ethics official, asking him to take "appropriate actions to address any violations" Pruitt had committed.

But for some odd reason, the EPA has done everything but protecting our environment since Pruitt became chief and President Donald Trump took office.

"The American public must have faith that ethics violations, in addition to the looks of ethics violations, are investigated and correctly addressed", he wrote. Everyone working under Pruitt, and anyone that would replace Pruitt as chief of the EPA, would embody similar policies.

A second email from the liaison between the White House and the EPA mentioned that the White House was concerned about the raises, but said the administrator had said to move forward with it, according to CNN.

EPA's assistant inspector general for investigations, Patrick Sullivan, has told The Washington Post and other media that Pruitt has received a higher number of threats than his predecessors - some of them "very personal, ugly threats". That amount includes travel and overtime pay for Mr. Pruitt's round-the-clock detail of security officers. The office is already looking into the cost of Pruitt's travel and security, as well as the use of a provision in the Safe Drinking Water Act to appoint senior employees. The letter cites Pruitt's $50-a-night rental of a condominium tied to an energy lobbyist, his frequent government-funded flights home to Oklahoma, and his reported firing or demoting EPA staff who raised concerns about his actions. The Associated Press reported Friday that the 20-member team providing day-and-night protection for Pruitt had racked up expenses approaching $3 million in his first year.

Most recently, Pruitt's decision to rent a room from the wife of a powerful lobbyist at well below market price has come under scrutiny.

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On Tuesday afternoon the E.P.A. acknowledged that the agency official who had signed off on the February assessment questioning Mr. Pruitt's security threats had been dismissed.

And Pruitt - among the most aggressive of Trump's appointees in cutting federal regulations - enjoys wide support among GOP lawmakers, several of whom are either standing by him or at least avoiding publicly scolding his actions. Pruitt exclusively paid for nights that he slept on the apartment and has referred to as it an "Airbnb" model association, however exterior ethics specialists have mentioned it may elevate additional questions if the homeowners held the room open for him even when he did not pay.

That's on top of previously ongoing investigations into the administrator's outsized travel spending and purchase of a $43,000 soundproof privacy booth purchased for the administrator to make private phone calls.

The EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the OGE's letter.

A nationwide search of state and federal court records by the AP found no case where anyone has been arrested or charged with threatening Pruitt.

"This is kind of an unprecedented situation as far as I know", Jennifer Kaplan, a spokeswoman for the EPA Office of Inspector General, told BuzzFeed News, referring to the unusual way the request landed on the IG's desk after originating with the Office of Government Ethics and then getting bounced off EPA's ethics office.

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