Dems: No evidence of credible threats against EPA's Pruitt

File The federal government's top voice on ethics has sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency outlining areas of concern regarding agency chief Scott Pruitt

File The federal government's top voice on ethics has sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency outlining areas of concern regarding agency chief Scott Pruitt

However, some lawmakers and top EPA officials say that, although such posts may be frequent, there's little evidence to suggest that any of them were direct threats requiring a response or that they warranted Pruitt's frequent use of first-class and business-class tickets and a 20-person security team to protect him from the general public.

Two top Democrats on the committee, ranking member Thomas R. Carper of DE and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, on Tuesday demanded such hearings, saying they have confidential documents that contradict public statements made by Pruitt, EPA spokespersons and President Donald Trump regarding the administrator's security spending. "But Pruitt wanted his coin to be bigger than everyone else's and he wanted it in a way that represented him". They include public protests, criticism of Pruitt's policies and other activities protected by the First Amendment.

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 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 acting director and general counsel of the Office of Government Ethics sent a letter to the EPA with his concerns about Pruitt.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox told Politico back in February that Pruitt was granted a "blanket waiver" to travel in first class for security reasons, but the next day, Wilcox changed his statement, saying a waiver was submitted "for every trip". 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. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey joined the chorus Tuesday.

The Republican head of the U.S. House of Representative's oversight committee told Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt on Wednesday his agency has not provided requested documents about expensive air travel, including documents related to any threats that had been made on Pruitt. The reported threats, the letter said, included mundane incidents like protestors attempting to disrupt Pruitt's speech at a private event and letters or social media posts expressing displeasure with the administrator's actions.

"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.

"Either way", they add, their committee "has a responsibility to look into these matters".

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