Pruitt got 24-7 armed security on first day at EPA

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt giving a speech

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt acknowledged Wednesday that one of his top aides helped him search for housing past year - a potential violation of federal law - but said she had done so "on personal time".

The AP reported last month that demands for increased security are nothing new for Pruitt. Altogether, the agency has spent about $3 million on Pruitt's 20-member full-time security detail, which is more than three times the size of his predecessor's part-time security contingent.

Six out of the seven Democrats who sit on the subcommittee have already signed onto a resolution calling on Pruitt to resign from EPA. Udall said Perrotta wrote in the email that Pruitt had encouraged the use of the devices.

The occasion would normally be a routine budget hearing for an agency head.

"No, I don't recall that", said Pruitt, when asked if he had personally requested the use of lights and sirens.

"The agency should not have done that", Pruitt said, though he declined to apologize for the tweet when Udall asked him to do so.

And the subcommittee's top Democrat, New Mexico's Tom Udall, is accusing Pruitt of failing to inform lawmakers about a $43,000 soundproof booth for making private phone calls from his office.

"I am concerned that numerous important policy efforts that you are engaged in are being overshadowed because of a series of issues related to you and your management of the agency", she said.

Elkins Jr. said the decision was made by the agency's Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics and Training after being informed that Pruitt had requested that such protection begin once he was confirmed as administrator.

Pruitt has also faced growing pressure from some Republican senators who are not on the panel over his handling of USA biofuels policy.

"As you know, the right answer is 'yes, '" Udall said.

Pruitt, who did not refer to Hupp by name but called her "a longtime friend", said that when it came to her assistance, "it's my understanding that all activity there was on personal time".

In testimony before two House subcommittees last month, Pruitt sought to put the blame for any missteps on his subordinates, saying that his security team decided he should fly in first class and that his chief of staff approved the questionable raises.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the committee's chairwoman, said that instead of being asked about Pruitt's efforts to return EPA to its core mission, she's constantly fielding questions about issues like his management and travel.

On the legal defense fund, Pruitt said his attorney was working with the Government Accountability Office to make sure it was run properly.

The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry is preparing to propose safe levels for fluorinated chemicals in drinking water almost six times more stringent than the Environmental Protection Agency's recommendation.

"Unlike Scott Pruitt's Pollution Protection Agency, there is still one government agency clearly trying to safeguard the public from these unsafe chemicals", said EWG President Ken Cook.

Pruitt says his staff shouldn't have issued the tweet.

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