Threats Against EPA Head Scott Pruitt Prompt Increase in Security

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt recently had his office swept for listening devices and installed biometric locks on his office doors, the latest steps to increase security to combat what agency staff says are “unprecedented amount of threats.”

The agency paid an outside firm $3,000 to sweep the administrator’s office for “covert/illegal surveillance devices” in March, according to documents first reported by the Associated Press and shared with ABC News by an EPA source. The Associated Press also reportedthat the EPA spent almost $6,000 to install biometric locks on the administrator’s office.

“Administrator Pruitt has received an unprecedented amount of threats against him…there is nothing nefarious about security decisions made by EPA’s Protective Service Detail,” agency spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in a statement.

He also said that former Administrator Lisa Jackson who served President Barack Obama also had a similar security sweep.

“It’s not unreasonable to get your office swept if you have a job like his job,” ABC News law enforcement consultant Brad Garrett said Thursday.

The EPA has a law enforcement office that employs federal agents that conduct criminal investigations and protect the administrator. The Inspector General’s Office, which also investigates threats against EPA employees, said it has opened more cases than in the previous year and that more of them have been threats directed at the administrator.

EPA Assistant Inspector General for Investigations Patrick Sullivan told the Washington Post that 32 percent of threats investigated this year were directed at the administrator, including “some very personal, ugly threats,” compared to 9 percent of threats that were directed at former administrator Gina McCarthy in 2016.

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SOURCE: ABC News, Stephanie Ebbs