The New York Times is hinting at the possibility that the Obama administration permitted EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s head of security to work for a tabloid associated with President Donald Trump.
TheNYT suggested in an article published Wednesday that former President Barack Obama inexplicably gave Pasquale Perrotta a waiver in 2016 to work with a pro-Trump publisher. Federal officials “face stringent restrictions on outside jobs to prevent conflicts of interest,” TheNYT reported.
He was allowed to work on assignments for American Media Inc. during the 2016 presidential campaign. AMI’s payment in August 2016 to a former Playboy model who claimed to have had an affair with the president has pulled the publisher into a larger probe into Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen.
Perotta’s role as Pruitt’s security chief took on an elevated status after several news reports in February showed the EPA administrator paid for expensive first-class flights during his first year in office.
Reports from The Washington Post, Politico, and others in February show taxpayers funded at least $90,000 for Pruitt and his top aides to fly in June, which included first-class seats and a ride on a military jet. The EPA maintains the flight upgrades were required due to an uptick in security threats Pruitt has faced during his first year in office.
Perotta did not address the nature of his work with the AMI, but he did pushback against what he considered the media’s intent to “tarnish” his career. “I was a highly respected federal agent,” Perotta, a former Secret Service agent before joining the EPA in 2004, told TheNYT.
He added: “I am retiring as planned … but has anyone mentioned that I served with honor and distinction the Obama Administration? I served two former Administrators and now to end my career this way is totally unacceptable.”
Perrotta was assigned to protect former EPA head Gina McCarthy, who served from 2013 until Trump was inaugurated in January 2017. McCarthy’s spokeswoman was not aware of the work Perrotta did for AMI, which owns outlets like The National Enquirer.
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