The Trump administration couldn't care less about police brutality, failing schools, rampant gun violence or any number of other plagues hitting the well-being of American citizens. However, its own officials do not shy away from living luxuriously on taxpayers’ money.
Scott Pruitt, who heads the Environmental Protection Agency, has reportedly managed to cost taxpayers close to $3 million in travel and security expenses in just his first year.
The cost of Pruitt’s full-time, 20-member security detail is over three times that of his predecessor Gina McCarthy’s part-time detail.
Pruitt's behavior caused rumbles at the EPA as soon as he arrived. He immediately 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 now runs a private security company.
His security was then expanded to give him protection even when he was on vacation, making trips to Disneyland or at home in Oklahoma. The salaries of people working for Pruitt’s security rose, with some even making as much as $160,000 under him.
An Associated Press report investigating these expenses also revealed Pruitt and Perotta booked first-class flights for themselves.
To offset some of these expenses, Pruitt accepted airline miles from Ken Wagner, a newly hired subordinate at the EPA. Former Office of Federal Ethics Director Walter Shaub confirmed to the EPA that, if this was true, the acceptance of such gifts would be a serious ethical offense.
Any dissenting voices from within the organization were quickly suppressed. When security official Eric Weese complained about Pruitt’s use of motorcade sirens to bypass normal DC traffic, he was demoted.
The only justification Pruitt has given is that he was once yelled at in an airport. However, no one has seemingly ever threatened Pruitt, a nationwide search of state and federal court records by the AP revealed.
Just recently, Pruitt came under fire after two of his favorite aides received massive pay raises.
The White House had reportedly rejected Pruitt’s request asking for pay raises, but the administrator decided to invoke a provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act, which The Atlantic reports is “meant to help expedite the hiring of experts and allow for more flexible staffing.”
The provision allows Pruitt to hire employees without gaining approval from the White House or Congress. Shortly after the White House rejected Pruitt’s request for pay raises, his two aides were approved to receive salary increases of $28,130 and $56,765.
But President Donald Trump doesn't seem a bit concerned about the sinking reputation of his EPA chief. This might be because Pruitt has been diligently implementing Trump’s plan to bring EPA “back to basics."
The “back to basics” agenda entails cutting back on EPA’s regulations and firing staff and scientists. In its last budget, the White House sought a $2.3 billion in cuts to the EPA.
In his bid to protect the corporate interests in America, Trump is bolstering the most unethical voices in D.C.
Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters/Yuri Gripas