First-class travel, permanent bodyguards, excessive spending, very advantageous rent: the spending scandal of Donald Trump's environment minister swells, but the US president reiterated his support, satisfied with his action.
Scott Pruitt has headed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since last year, tasked with one of the Trump Presidency's priority missions: to dismantle Barack Obama's environmental record.
Oklahoma, where he had built his reputation as an advocate for the fossil industries as Attorney General, he got on with his new job with such zeal that he is now thanked by Donald Trump, who had not been so lenient to Ministers of Health or Veterans Affairs.
List of Potential Ethical Violations by EPA Administrator Grows Yet Every Week of Revelations Made by Medics ias and elected congressional Democrats
Scott Pruitt has indeed traveled a lot in first class, accompanied by numerous bodyguards. A safety precaution, justified the EPA, evoking threats … But the argument collapsed when it was learned that Mr. Pruitt, for personal trips he had to pay from his pocket, was content to
The number of bodyguards is plethoric, compared to its predecessors: 19 agents and 19 vehicles, for protection 24 hours a day, according to CNN. Democrat Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who was contacted confidentially by EPA officials, estimates that the number was 30 in a six-week period.
By comparison, Gina McCarthy, who was in the same post under Barack Obama, had only half a dozen, and was traveling alone on weekends. Another administrator, under George W. Bush, Christine Todd, told CNN that she was walking to work alone.
– 'Preferential treatment' –
Scott Pruitt is also charged with having transferred a bodyguard who had refused to activate the sirens on his vehicle because the Minister was late for a dinner because it was not an emergency.
He allegedly ordered excessive expenses such as installing a secure phone booth in his office ($ 43,000). At least five public servants who opposed other spending plans, such as buying an armored office or renting a private plane on a monthly basis, were dismissed or sacked, according to the New York Times.
Not to mention the particularly advantageous lease signed by Scott Pruitt for his nights in Washington: an apartment rented $ 50 a night to a lobbyist, well below market prices.
The US president has, surprisingly, conceded that his minister was relatively expensive
"Although security spending is somewhat higher than its predecessors, Scott Pruitt has received death threats because of his bold action at the EPA," tweeted Donald Trump. "Exceptionally clean air and water, while saving billions of dollars in the US"
"Rent was about the price of the market, travel expenses OK Scott does a great job!"
If the presidential tweet clears the sky in the short term, it does not put an end to the affair.
The Inspector General of the EPA investigates, and the Democratic Opposition of the Congress continues to discover overwhelming facts, referred by EPA officials who regard Pruitt as the agency's gravedigger and benefit from a law allowing them to confidentially confide in parliamentarians to denounce ethical violations.
"While security issues are extremely important, personal security should never be used as a pretext for obtaining preferential treatment," wrote Senator Sheldon Whitehouse to the Inspector General of the EPA. [19659002ManyelectedDemocratsandthreeRepublicanscalledforhisresignationTherestofthemajority'selectedofficialsareincreasinglyreluctanttodefendit
Trey Gowdy, Chair of the House Government Control Commission, has said in response to an environmental activist that he "lost patience" for this kind of behavior.
But as long as the President maintains his trust, Scott Pruitt is assured of keeping his job.