Environmental Protection Agency

EPA Watchdog: Scott Pruitt's 24/7, $3.5 Million Security Detail Was Unjustified

Is anyone surprised?

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JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS/Newscom

The 24/7 protection that Scott Pruitt received during his tenure running the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was unjustified, according to an EPA Office of Inspector General report released today.

A security detail gave Pruitt round-the-clock protection starting on his first day in February 2017. Former White House adviser Don Benton requested the extensive protection as a precautionary measure, citing possible threats against Pruitt.

That extra security came at a steep price. From the start of Pruitt's tenure until the end of the 2017 calendar year, the EPA spent $3.5 million protecting the boss. For comparison's sake, that's more than double the $1.6 million incurred by the agency's Protective Service Detail over the same period in 2016.

The fact that Pruitt's security detail cost $3.5 million isn't exactly news—the inspector general revealed that information in May. What is news, even if it's completely unsurprising, is that the inspector general found no "documented justification" for the "increased costs," which it deemed an "inefficient use of agency resources."

The EPA likely wasted so much money protecting Pruitt because it has no idea how to assess threats. "We found that the [agency] has no final, approved standard operating procedures that address the level of protection required for the Administrator or how those services are to be provided," the inspector general's report says. "The failure to have effective and current standard operating procedures can result in the organization having unclear lines of authority, inconsistent practices, inappropriate or inadequate staffing, and excessive or unnecessary costs."

It's not even clear if the EPA has the legal authorization to protect its administrator. The Government Accountability Office has said that only the Secret Service and Department of State can protect Cabinet officials. But according to the EPA's Office of Legal Counsel (OGC), the EPA can provide protection. The inspector general report "does not take any position on the merits of the OGC analysis."

The report doesn't make Pruitt look great, but that's nothing new for the former administrator. Pruitt resigned in March following months of scandals—and not just his 24/7 security detail or his taxpayer-funded first-class air travel, which he also used security concerns to justify. Pruitt also faced investigations for renting a posh D.C. condo from a Washington lobbyist at a cost far below the market rate and installing a $43,000 soundproofed telephone booth in his office.

That last accusation in particular screams government waste. Pruitt said he needed the phone booth to conduct "confidential communications," specifically with the White House. He ended up using it to call the White House exactly once.

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  1. But could they protect him from the twittersphere?

  2. EPA Office of Inspector General report released today.

    For some reason, I am skeptical that bureaucrats from the same agency where bureaucrats hated Pruitt for rolling back their Lefty agenda, came to an objective conclusion. I doubt the EPA Inspector General does a bunch of reports on how much money the EPA wastes every day because most of their job is bullshit.

    The image shows how the PSD incurred over $3.5 million in costs for the 11 month period of February 1, 2017, through December 31, 2017?an increase of over 110 percent compared to the prior 11-month period’s costs of $1.6million

    Nobody threatened the Director of the EPA during Obama’s administration. So Pruitt wanted more security? The EPA spent $1.6 million on security before Pruitt. This is not like the security budget was $0 and Pruitt spent unprecedented money.

    Pruitt saved the taxpayers millions based on his policy rollbacks, so a few more million to make sure some Lefty nut doesn’t attack Pruitt is probably money well spent.

    1. At some point your poodle-like behavior becomes counterproductive, surely. Do they pay you by the (what is the unit of measurement of bullshit)?

      No reasonable person can conclude that Pruitt was acting with sanity, let along fiscal prudence (these are Republicans, and they are supposed to pretend to be about that, you know).

    2. MAGA!

      1. Principals over principles, eh?

        1. Allow me to introduce you to LC1789. The only question is whether his true principal is a fat and orange or short and Russian.

          1. MAGA

          2. Dude – *you* don’t get to complain about ‘principals over principles’.

        2. MAGA

      2. MAGA over trolling.

        Post a trolling reply, get a MAGA!

  3. Whether or not Pruitt merited a 24/7 security detail, a dozen agents at 150k per annum is only half the figure in question. The real question isn’t how Pruitt got the security detail, it’s how the hell it cost so much money.

    1. It’s like if the National Park Service spends $150,000 on a waffle iron, you don’t ask why they need a waffle iron, you ask why the hell a waffle iron costs $150,000.

    2. “…it’s how the hell it cost so much money.”

      You’re gonna be waiting a long time for bureaucrats to explain that.

  4. Pruitt protects new boss until paid off.

  5. Lets be honest, while the cost is very high Pruitt was no doubt sent life threatening correspondence daily. We all know the EPA is a garbage agency, so it’s no surprise they overspent on security. Odd, the IG didn’t mention that the EPA itself is a giant waste of money. How much would we save if we simply declared the EPA null and void?

    1. The IG would have issued a report calling you a monster.

  6. Why should the EPA know how to assess that risk? It really does seem like something that should have been turned over to the Secret Service.

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