The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has opened up an investigation into whether Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt “retaliated” against staffers who “questioned his spending and management decisions,” The Washington Post reports. The office, which “responds to whistleblower complaints from federal employees,” is reportedly speaking to six agency employees or former employees. Kevin Chmielewski, Pruitt’s former deputy chief of staff operations, said that the office was taking the matter “extremely seriously,” and reportedly spoke to officials for “at least six hours” about his firing after he expressed concerns over the administrator’s spending habits. This comes after reports that several employees at the EPA were either reassigned or dismissed after they questioned or pushed back on Pruitt’s expenditures—including a 24/7 security detail, first-class flights, and bullet-resistant seat covers.
Trump’s hardline approach to illegal immigration is a boon for private prisons and security companies.
In 2016, the Department of Justice under the Obama administration began phasing out for-profit prisons for federal inmates following a DOJ report that found poor management practices at one private facility contributed to an inmate riot that killed a prison guard in 2012.
The Trump administration, however, has embraced them — particularly as a solution for the high cost of detaining people who crossed the border illegally.
The 2012 inmate riot occurred inside a prison owned and operated by CoreCivic, formerly Corrections Corporation of America. Since 2017, CoreCivic has received $225 million in ICE funding to manage immigrant detention facilities, according to USASpending.gov data.
A subsidiary of the Tennessee-based company donated $250,000 toward Trump’s inaugural festivities last year.
Another $250,000 Trump inaugural donor — GEO Group — is the country’s largest for-profit prison operator and a multimillion-dollar beneficiary of the administration’s aggressive immigration policy.