Administrator Scott Pruitt's EPA hired a company early this year to sweep his office for covert surveillance devices.
The EPA paid $3,000 in March to Edwin Steinmetz Associates to do a “sweep for covert/illegal surveillance devices” in Pruitt’s Washington office, the Hill reported. Pruitt was confirmed as EPA administrator in mid-February.
The sweep did not uncover any surveillance devices.
Pruitt has faced scrutiny for other measures the agency has taken to ensure his personal security. He has a 24/7 security detail and used $25,000 in taxpayer dollars to build a secure phone booth in his office. The EPA’s inspector general is investigating whether Pruitt broke federal spending laws by authorizing that purchase.
The EPA has defended these actions as necessary because of threats Pruitt endures from people who oppose his deregulatory agenda.
“Administrator Pruitt has received an unprecedented amount of threats against him and security decisions are made by EPA’s Protective Service Detail,” EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said, adding that Lisa Jackson, former President Barack Obama’s first-term EPA administrator, also had a similar security sweep done.
In addition to actions related to security, Pruitt’s EPA is under fire for methods it uses to protect his reputation. Last week, the EPA confirmed it hired a conservative opposition firm with a record of attacking Republican critics to track news coverage of the agency.
The Environmental Working Group and American Oversight, a nonpartisan watchdog, asked the EPA inspector general on Monday to start an investigation into the agency's award of a $120,000 contract to Virginia-based Definers Public Affairs.