Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt is a man who is concerned about his safety. And that concern has come at a steep cost for taxpayers, adding up to some $3 million when pay is included with travel expenses, according to an EPA official who talked to the Associated Press about how Pruitt has been expanding his own personal security detail since coming into office. There is now a 20-member full-time detail on Pruitt, which is three times larger than his predecessor’s part-time security detail.
It seems the increased spending on Pruitt’s security came shortly after he arrived in Washington and promoted a former Secret Service agent to head up his security detail. Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta, who operates a private security company, quickly began expanding the EPA chief’s security detail so he would be well guarded 24 hours a day, even on family holidays. “Multiple” agents, for example, accompanied Pruitt to a family vacation in Disneyland.
The EPA insists Pruitt needs a large security detail because of the “unprecedented” number of death threats him and his family. But the need for day and night protection means many in his detail racked up lots of overtime and hit annual salary caps of some $160,000.
These latest revelations come amid a growing list of scandals that have engulfed Pruitt. Trump reportedly asked Pruitt about these controversies during a meeting at the White House on Friday, according to Bloomberg. The president has reportedly reviewed documents related to a lease arrangement he had with a lobbyist to rent a bedroom in a Capitol Hill condo. That arrangement is reportedly the subject of an investigation at the House Oversight Committee. “I don’t have a lot patience for that kind of stuff,” House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy told activists at a signing of his new book.
Even as the scandals continue to grow, several prominent conservatives are uniting to come to Pruitt’s defense. “He’s a conservative hero,” Dallas investor Doug Deason, whose family is a prominent right-wing donor, told Bloomberg. “It would be a huge mistake to do anything other than come out and support him.” A group of conservatives even delivered a letter to the White House on Friday to thank Trump for standing by Pruitt. “The days of a rogue, agenda driven EPA are over,” the group wrote. “Scott Pruitt is a bold, capable manager and is right for this job. His record shows you made the right choice picking him. We are certain he will guide EPA through the coming years of your Administration as a courageous and qualified administrator.”