US EPA's Pruitt under spending probe; senators urge his ouster

US EPA's Pruitt under spending probe; senators urge his ouster

Last week, Representative Trey Gowdy, the South Carolina Republican who is chairman of the House Oversight Committee, opened an investigation into Mr. Pruitt's expenditures on first-class travel, which the E.P.A. has said were necessary because passengers have made threatening remarks to Mr. Pruitt during flights.

Pruitt has been under fire for potential ethics lapses, including flying first class, excessive spending on security, and the rental of a room in a Washington condominium tied to an energy lobbyist. The lawmakers also urged President Donald Trump to appoint a new administrator committed to the agency's founding objective to protect human health and the environment.

Despite stiff competition, Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, is by common consensus the worst of the ideologues and mediocrities President Trump chose to populate his cabinet.

- Pruitt has repeatedly overridden the recommendations of EPA scientists in order to provide relief to industry, like when he reversed the recommendation of his agency's scientists to ban the use of the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos, which has been linked to brain damage in children.

Wilcox said all are searched in response to records inquiries.

Asked about the EPA officials' Australia trip, a White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, did not address whether the travel was appropriate but said Pruitt's overall spending raised questions and "we expect the EPA to answer them".

While Mulvaney put on a good show of being steamed up about Pruitt's taxpayer-funded spending spree, he also noted that he doesn't believe anyone has ever faced criminal penalties for violating the Antideficiency Act, of which Pruitt ran afoul. An economy class ticket for the trip would have cost about $US1400.

"If he had a reputation for playing it by the book in every other instance, then you might not be concerned", said Noble, senior director and general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, which advocates government ethics reforms.

The cut-rate airfare is the latest ethical issue to ensnare Pruitt, who has been under intense scrutiny since it was first revealed last month that he had stayed a year ago in a bargain-priced Capitol Hill condo tied to a fossil-fuels lobbyist.

This month President Donald Trump said Pruitt, who has carried out his policy of slashing regulations on the fossil fuel industry, "has done a fantastic job".

The Democratic resolution, led by U.S. Sen.

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