April 21, 2018

Top ethics official asks EPA to investigate Pruitt for violations

11 April 2018, 11:19 | Rufus Hill

Donald Trump shrugs off ethics concerns to back embattled environment chief Scott Pruitt

US Official's round-the-clock $4m security involves 18 agents

Thomas Carper, the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Elkins wrote that despite his office's fiscal and statutory constraints, "we have determined the issues in your letter are within the authority of the OIG to review and we will do so". They include public protests, criticism of Pruitt's policies and other activities protected by the First Amendment.

In a letter to Delaware Sen. Tom Carper of DE and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island urged the committee's Republican majority to begin oversight hearings into Pruitt's unusual security precautions. On Saturday, President Donald Trump tweeted about Pruitt, saying, "Rent was about market rate, travel expenses OK".

Apol encouraged the agency to take the appropriate actions to address the scandals, though he stopped short of explicitly calling for Pruitt's removal.

"I didn't know they got the pay raises until yesterday", Pruitt said. We are watching you.

In emails, neither the offices of Senators James Lankford nor Jim Inhofe addressed the scrutiny of their chosen EPA administrator.

With the flurry of issues surrounding Pruitt, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said last week that the administration is undertaking a "full review".

Politico first reported Tuesday that the career EPA security staffer who wrote the February memo, Mario Caraballo, was sacked shortly after the Democrats' account of it became public.

Asked about Caraballo's dismissal, EPA suggested the timing was a coincidence. "These kind of personnel actions are handled by EPA's HR officials, [Presidential Personnel Office] and me", Jackson said in a statement.

The Democratic senators called Caraballo's firing "deeply troubling".

"My staff did and I found out about that yesterday, and I changed it", he said.

Caraballo could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

After The Post detailed dozens of first-class trips the administrator took during his first year in office, EPA security officials disclosed in February that verbal confrontations with members of the public had prompted Pasquale "Nino" Perrotta, the head of Pruitt's detail, to recommend last spring that he switch from coach to premium-class seats whenever possible.

In the April 6 letter, the Office of Government Ethics raised a number of concerns it hopes EPA officials will clarify, such as whether Pruitt's stay at a condo tied to the energy lobbyist, J. Steven Hart, qualifies as a gift.

And it reports that at least five agency officials faced retaliation after questioning Pruitt's outsized spending for travel, unprecedented security precautions and pricey office furniture.

It notes, among other things, that in Pruitt's "eagerness to hold high-profile political events promoting his agenda", the man who now leads the EPA has often "been less than rigorous in following important procedures, leading to poorly crafted legal efforts that risk being struck down in court". Pruitt has cited security concerns as justification of his flying in first-class airline seats with his security chief, a perk not generally afforded to federal employees. Pruitt's premium status gave him and his security chief access to VIP airport lounges.

Pruitt is rewriting the record book for shameless government corruption.

But Trump's assertion appears to be on shaky ground, with a senior investigative reporter at BuzzFeed announcing he had filed a freedom of information request with the EPA to ascertain how many death threats Pruitt had received during his tenure.

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