Scott Pruitt is no stranger to controversy. During his short reign as chieftain of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), he has consistently come under heat for his hostility towards climate change, his ties to coal lobbyists, and even his rejection of evolution by natural selection. President Trump tweeted last month that Pruitt had received a number of death threats for this "bold action at EPA", forcing him to fork out millions of dollars on security and first-class travel expenses.
Now's your chance to see some of the threats that spurred that controversy.
The New York Times and Buzzfeed News have done some digging and obtained documents explaining the EPA’s numerous investigations into threats against Pruitt. The 57-page document, obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request, shows an extensive reel of curse-ridden "hate mail", tweets, handwritten postcards, and social media comments.
One "threat" involved someone drawing a mustache on a photograph of Pruitt featured on Newsweek Magazine’s front page and then taping it to the wall of an elevator in the EPA building. The investigation into this mischief was later closed because of the “lack of an overt threat”.
Another threat from March 2017 consisted of a postcard sent from Boston with handwritten statements such as “Get out while you still can, Scott, you are evil incarnate... you ignorant fuck.”
On November 8, 2017, the EPA received a threatening letter saying: “Just read your denial of global warming… Hope that you & your kind die and choke to death of cancer of the guts, slowly in agony, & rot forever in a toxic sewer in hell forever!... My advice to you is to get out. Trump will die in his own shit.”
EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said last month there had been an “unprecedented” number of death threats against Pruitt and his family.
However, despite this array of expletive-laced threats, an official memo from the Office of Homeland Security emphasized there was no "specific credible direct threat to the EPA Administrator,” The New York Times reports.
Previous EPA administrators have also received a flow of threatening hate mail. Gina McCarthy, who served as EPA Head under President Obama, received a number of strongly worded threats, including an email with the title: “Ban glyphosate or die you haggard nazi bitch! DIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIE.”
All of the verbal threats to Pruitt have been used to justify a steep cost to the taxpayer. Overall, the agency has spent almost $3 million since he became EPA administrator on a 20-member security team to protect him around the clock, according to the Associated Press. Some of this included first-class travel expenses. The Washington Post reports that Pruitt's security team claimed he had to fly on first-class commercial planes because flying in economy class would “endanger his life”.