The Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to fire a staffer accused of leaking to the press will only embolden future leaks, an EPA career employee claims, according to a Tuesday Politico report.
The EPA dismissed Mario Caraballo, the deputy associate administrator of EPA’s Office of Homeland Security, which concluded in February an assessment failed to identify credible death threats justifying agency head Scott Pruitt’s heavy security spending. The firing won’t stop the leaks, one source claimed.
“This isn’t going to frighten staff; this is going to embolden us to leak more to get these criminals out,” the employee told Politico about Caballo’s firing. “They need to know we’re not intimidated and we’re going to blow the whistle on anything even borderline questionable.”
Democratic Sens. Tom Carper of Delaware and Rhode Island’s Sheldon Whitehouse publicized Caraballo’s assessment Tuesday morning in a letter to Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso. He chastised the Democrats in a statement for openly distributing “sensitive” information about Pruitt’s security detail.
“I am deeply troubled that members of the committee would publicly release law enforcement sensitive information regarding the safety and security of a Cabinet member and his family,” Barrasso said of Whitehouse and Carper. “This letter selectively quotes non-public documents.”
Barrasso chairs the Committee on Environment and Public Works, which oversees the EPA. Whitehouse and Carper are senior members on the committee. Reports surfaced on April 6, suggesting a former jilted member of President Donald Trump’s administration was one of the culprits behind some recent leaks characterizing Pruitt as a profligate spender.
EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox pushed back on Caraballo’s assessment. “Scott Pruitt has faced an unprecedented amount of death threats against him, and these threat assessments are conducted within [Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance] using information collected from the [Protective Service Detail], EPA’s Office of Homeland Security, and Inspector General,” Wilcox wrote in a Tuesday statement.
Threats against officials at the agency and Pruitt spiked 50 percent during the past year. EPA’s Office of Inspector General launched more than 70 investigations into the aforementioned threas, an Oct. 6, 2017, NBC report noted. None of the threats resulted in injuries, but they were deemed legitimate risks to officials.
Most of the threats stem from the politically volatile atmosphere created after Trump started rolling back several of his Democratic predecessor’s climate regulations.
Trump and Pruitt managed to nix more than 50 of former President Barack Obama’s environmental regulations, including the Paris climate agreement and the so-called Clean Power Plan — both of which targeted emissions from coal power plants across the country.
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