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EPA chief Scott Pruitt spent millions on security and travel, according to sources, documents - http://travelporn.info | luxury travel sites

April 6, 2018 11:22 pm
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Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt‘s concern with his safety came at a steep cost to taxpayers as his swollen security detail blew through overtime budgets and at times diverted officers away from investigating environmental crimes to protect him.

Altogether, the agency spent millions of dollars for a 20-member full-time security detail that is three times the size of his predecessor’s part-time security contingent.

New details in Pruitt’s expansive spending for security and travel emerged from agency sources and documents reviewed by The Associated Press. They come as the embattled EPA leader fends off allegations of profligate spending and ethical missteps that have imperiled his job.

Shortly after arriving in Washington, Pruitt demoted the career staff member heading his security detail and replaced him with EPA Senior Special Agent Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta, a former Secret Service agent who operates a private security company. An EPA official with direct knowledge of Pruitt’s security spending says Perrotta oversaw a rapid expansion of the EPA chief’s security detail to accommodate guarding him day and night, even on family vacations and when Pruitt was home in Oklahoma.

Perrotta’s personal biography, on the website of his company, Sequoia Security Group, says that during his earlier stint with the Secret Service he worked with the Guardia di Finanza, the Italian finance police.

The EPA spent nearly $9,000 last year on increased counter-surveillance precautions for Pruitt, including a private contractor who swept his office for hidden listening devices and sophisticated biometric locks for the doors. The payment for the bug sweep went to a vice president at Perrotta’s security company.

The EPA official who spoke to AP said Perrotta also arranged the installation of a $43,000 soundproof phone booth for Pruitt’s office.

At least five EPA officials were placed on leave, reassigned or demoted after pushing back against spending requests such as a $100,000-a-month private jet membership, a bulletproof vehicle and $70,000 for furniture such as a bulletproof desk for the armed security officer always stationed inside the administrator’s office suite when he is in the building.

Those purchases were not approved. But Pruitt got an ornate refurbished desk comparable in grandeur to the one in the Oval Office.

Among the officials who faced consequences for resisting such spending was EPA Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Kevin Chmielewski, a former Trump campaign staffer who was placed on unpaid administrative leave this year.

The prior head of Pruitt’s security detail, Eric Weese, was demoted last year after he refused Pruitt’s demand to use the lights and sirens on his government-owned SUV to get him through Washington traffic to the airport and dinner reservations.