The U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s watchdog has said that former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s 24-hour security detail was not justified and was more than twice as expensive as that of his predecessor. The Inspector General’s report, released on Tuesday, said that EPA failed to properly assess Pruitt’s security threats before it spent $3.5 million for his protective services.
The report said that the Trump transition team decided to assign a round-the-clock security detail to protect Pruitt before he even started his job. The decision needed to be re-evaluated two weeks after Pruitt took office but the IG said that this did not happen.
Additionally, the EPA should have conducted a cost analysis and threat assessment in February 2017 to determine if the level of protection should be continued. While there was evidence of a cost analysis, the IG’s office said that there was no threat assessment.
“We found evidence of a cost analysis prepared for the decision meeting, but no threat analysis or documented decision to continue 24/7 protection,” the IG’s office said in its report.
The cost of the security detail, which ballooned from $1.6 million to $3.5 million in just 11 months, also cost 110 percent more than the protective services provided to Pruitt’s predecessor, Gina McCarthy, during the same span of time.
A chunk of the expenses was incurred when Pruitt traveled. His travel expenses in 2017 alone cost $740,000. Pruitt cited security to justify his first-class flights.
Pruitt’s team said that the increased security level was necessary citing security professionals who said that Pruitt faced more security threats than his predecessor. They also disagreed that the security given to Pruitt was not justified.
EPA spokesman Michael Abboud said that dangerous people do not often make threats that would appear in threat analysis, citing attacks that happened without warning, such as the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the attack on the Republican Congressional baseball team.
“A threat analysis cannot be the sole source of information used to determine if protective services are provided or the level of protection,” Abboud said in a statement to POLITICO.
Environmental Integrity Project director Eric Schaeffer, who was a former director of civil enforcement at EPA, said that the report is a confirmation of what is already known.
“Nothing more than paranoia and mismanagement explains why taxpayers shelled out more than $3.5 million last year [on] Mr. Pruitt’s personal bodyguard,” Schaeffer told NBC News.
Pruitt left the government in July amid a cloud of scandals, with most of his troubles linked to his security detail.