EPA Ousted Staffer Who Signed Report That Weakened Pruitt's Security Claims

Posted April 12, 2018

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. In February that department determined that a previous review of threats made against Pruitt did not identify "credible direct threats" that would justify Pruitt's high spending on security, which has reportedly exceed $3 million. Kathy Castor of Florida; Diana DeGette of Colordao; the top Democrat on the oversight and investigations subcommittee; and Paul Tonko of NY, the top Democrat on the environment subcommittee. The Wyoming Republican lashed out at his Democratic colleagues, accusing Carper and Whitehouse of selectively quoting the documents and improperly disclosing "law enforcement sensitive information" without the approval of EPA or the Secret Service.

The Democrats said they found no records describing specific, credible threats against Pruitt.

Administrator Pruitt is facing three separate investigations. Those include messages threatening to leave scrapings of old paint at the administrator's office and one telling Pruitt "we are watching you" on the agency's climate-related policies.

In a letter sent to Pruitt Wednesday, House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy of SC said EPA had failed to hand over documents he requested in February, including copies of any waivers permitting the administrator to use premium class airfare. The determination that there have been more serious threats against Pruitt has been cited as the reason that he needs a 24/7 security detail and frequently takes first-class flights.

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"They felt they could not protect him appropriately, based on the amount of times he was being recognized and the way that some members of the public were acting toward him", said Barnet, who added that he was "not aware of any physical confrontations" the administrator had faced since taking office.

But the EPA did not turn them over, and Gowdy's subsequent letter confirms that.

"It is hard to reconcile the public statements of E.P.A., and the President, with these internal and external assessments", Whitehouse and Carper wrote.

Gowdy's new letter also asks for more information on the $50-per-night condo that Pruitt leased from an EPA lobbyist's wife, saying Gowdy has questions about "whether ethics officials who reviewed the lease had access to all relevant information, and whether all applicable ethics rules were considered when those officials concluded the lease agreement complied with federal ethics regulations". They also acknowledged, though, that the materials might be incomplete.

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"Administrator Pruitt does not have a challenge coin, EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox told The Hill". "However, another view is that certain factions within EPA have justified the exorbitant taxpayer spending incurred by the Administrator's first-class travel and large entourage of security personnel through unsubstantiated claims about threats to his security, either at the direction of the Administrator himself or others in the agency".

President Donald Trump has defended Pruitt, downplaying the ethical questions swirling around his embattled EPA chief while commending his work at the agency.

According to one internal agency memo, there have been at least 16 "threats" against Mr. Pruitt.

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