House oversight panel asks EPA for travel, condo documents

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks at the White House in 2017

Pressure from Congressional investigators mounted today on Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to answer questions over his use of taxpayer money to fly first class over perceived security threats, and his rental of a Capitol Hill condo linked to an energy lobbyist.

The same February assessment described repeated efforts by EPA intelligence officials to tell the agency's inspector general and senior leadership "that "the threat" to the Administrator was being inappropriately mischaracterized" by Pruitt's security detail, Whitehouse wrote in the letter, sent jointly with Sen.

Representative Trey Gowdy, the oversight committee chairman, said in a letter to Pruitt that the EPA had not produced documents showing whether there was an individual waiver or authorization for purchasing first- or business-class air tickets. 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.

According to two former agency employees familiar with the situation who spoke with Politico, the EPA claimed Caraballo was removed from his post over a personnel issue from a previous military job. Pruitt's chief takes responsibility for controversial raises GOP senators push back on calls to investigate Pruitt MORE reportedly pushed a year ago for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to redesign its official memorabilia in ways emphasizing his name, and in some cases removing the agency's logo.

Pruitt has been plagued with frequent reports of impropriety in recent weeks, raising speculation about how long he'll remain as head of the EPA.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt listens as President Donald Trump holds a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C., on April 9, 2018.

Jahan Wilcox, a spokesman for the agency, has, in the past, cited the EPA inspector general's office, which has noted death threats against the administrator and his family.

The Democrats also obtained a February 14 assessment from EPA's Office of Homeland Security Intelligence that concluded "EPA Intelligence has not identified any specific, credible, direct threat to the EPA administrator". Pruitt had planned to travel to Mexico this week, according to multiple agency officials, but has postponed the visit.

While the chairman made it clear he will not be investigating Pruitt in the near future, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is pressing ahead.

The Associated Press reported last week that Pruitt has spent about $3 million on security, a figure confirmed by The New York Times.

Asked about Caraballo's dismissal, EPA suggested the timing was a coincidence.

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