As mounting reports and accusations of unethical spending continue to plague Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma's Senators are continuing their full-throated support of the embattled former Attorney General.
Later, the EPA official, Kevin Minoli, said that he was referring the inquiry to the department's inspector general, which carries investigative powers that the ethics office does not.
"The American public must have faith that ethics violations, in addition to the looks of ethics violations, are investigated and correctly addressed", he wrote. An EPA spokesman claimed that Pruitt was unaware of some of these extravagant outlays and rejected the notion that concerned staffers had been punished, but the administrator has already shown what his denials are worth.
President Donald Trump's suggestion that EPA chief Scott Pruitt has faced death threats over his "bold actions" at the agency may not be as straightforward as it seems. The OGE does not have authority to take action with respect to any possible violation, according to CNN.
"Oh, he has too big of a security detail?"
Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming said Pruitt has accomplished key priorities as EPA head, mainly in reversing "punishing regulations" imposed under President Barack Obama. A GOP-led House oversight committee is also investigating Pruitt's travel spending and the administrator's bargain-priced rental of a $50-a-night Capitol Hill condo tied to a fossil fuels lobbyist.
In a February 14 "Preliminary Intelligence Enterprise Threat Assessment Review" memo from EPA's Office of Homeland Security Intelligence Team, according to the senators" letter, agency officials used all caps and bold print as they concluded that the justification for the coverage outlined by Pruitt's protective security detail in an October 17 memorandum "DOES NOT employ sound analysis or articulate relevant "threat specific' information appropriate to draw any resource or level of threat conclusions regarding the protection posture for the Administrator".
But while Pruitt has been ineffective at the kinds of regulatory rollbacks that could save industry money - and effective at undercutting the kind of work the EPA does to hold polluters accountable for environmental damages - he has been extremely effective at spending taxpayer money for his own needs.
Inhofe was one of Pruitt's more vocal supporters prior to his confirmation. According to reports, Pruitt rented the room at $50 per night.
Capping off the week, EPA ethics officers walked back their clearance of Pruitt's sketchy condo rental deal, revealing that they had not been given all the relevant information necessary to make a reasonable call.
The EPA's internal watchdog began looking into Pruitt's frequent travel back to Oklahoma in August of past year.
Since the spring of 2017, dozens of reports have raised questions about Pruitt's spending of millions in taxpayer dollars on round-the-clock security, a soundproof phone booth and pricey first-class travel.
The Hart's were also donors and fundraisers for Pruitt while he was a politician in Oklahoma.
Pruitt and EPA have defended the price of his journey and safety, saying the company wanted to extend his safety safety in response to a drastic improve in threats towards him in comparison with earlier directors.