Senate Democrats are formally calling for Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt to resign or be fired, citing allegations of ethical lapses and questionable spending on travel and security.
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.
Gowdy, in his February 20 letter, criticized the EPA, reiterated that "clearly federal regulations prohibit a blanket waiver" for security purposes, and requested that the EPA turn over all the individual waivers Pruitt would need to be able to fly in first class.
The new documents detail a disagreement among the EPA's intelligence officials, the EPA inspector general, and senior political appointees about the degree of threat that Pruitt faces, The Post reported.
The scandal-scarred EPA czar has come under severe scrutiny since it was revealed that he has spent millions of taxpayer dollars on an around-the-clock security detail, rented an impossibly affordable Capitol Hill condo from an oil lobbyist and dished out taxpayer cash on first-class travel.
Some reports suggest Trump continues to back Pruitt because he's considering installing him as his new attorney general, should he decide to finally fire Jeff Sessions.
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Sen. John Barasso, R-Wyo., said Tuesday he would not hold a hearing on the issue.
EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said last week there had been an "unprecedented" amount of death threats against Pruitt and his family. "But Pruitt wanted his coin to be bigger than everyone else's and he wanted it in a way that represented him".
But the EPA did not turn them over, and Gowdy's subsequent letter confirms that.
EPA's inspector general is now auditing Pruitt's security spending one of at least five ongoing probes by the agency's watchdog into spending and ethics issues surrounding the administrator.
The agency, which did not respond to a request for comment on the Democrats' letter, has justified the first-class travel and extra security as a precaution taken because of threats to Pruitt.
Pruitt has said his use of first-class airfare was initiated following unpleasant interactions with other travelers. Leopold told AP this week that an EPA official who responded to his request told him verbally that after checks with the agency's general counsel and inspector general's office that no such records existed. Those include messages threatening to leave scrapings of old paint at the administrator's office and one telling Pruitt "we are watching you" on the agency's climate-related policies.