US EPA chief Scott Pruitt asked for 24/7 security from day one of taking office: watchdog
EPA AdministratorScott Pruitt of Oklahoma speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt requested and received around-the-clock security since his first day in office in 2017, the agency’s watchdog on Monday told a lawmaker questioning Pruitt’s expensive security detail.

Prior EPA administrators have not had blanket protection. Pruitt, under pressure from Congress for his high travel and security spending as America’s top environmental regulator, has said his 24-hour security was installed due to unusual threats against him.

 “The decision was made by the Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics and Training after being informed that Mr. Pruitt requested 24/7 protection once he was confirmed as administrator,” according to the letter from The EPA’s Office of Inspector General.

The office “played no role in this decision.”

The inspector general released the detail in a letter to Democratic Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, who had asked the office how and why Pruitt was getting 24-hour protection.

During hearings last month, Pruitt, who was confirmed Feb. 17, 2017, justified his security spending by citing threats he had received since taking office.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Cynthia Osterman