FILE PHOTO: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator (EPA) Scott Pruitt testifies before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in...
Aaron Bernstein

But his emails: EPA’s Pruitt faces yet another investigation

Before Scott Pruitt became the scandal-plagued administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, he was a scandal-plagued Republican official in Oklahoma. In fact, as regular readers may recall, before Pruitt joined Donald Trump’s cabinet, he faced questions about hiding official emails that documented his cooperation with the oil and gas industries.

He also used multiple email accounts, including conducting official business on a private account, despite telling Congress the opposite.

Once Pruitt took the reins at the EPA, he returned to his old ways, utilizing four separate email accounts, and as of yesterday, the agency’s inspector general has decided this is worthy of closer scrutiny. The Associated Press reported:

Inspector General Arthur Elkins said in a letter released Tuesday that his office will review the matter, the latest in a series of federal investigations of Pruitt’s travel, security and spending and other issues.

The request for the email investigation came from Democratic Sens. Tom Carper of Delaware and Jeffrey Merkley of Oregon. Carper released a copy of the IG’s response.

The senators asked the IG to review whether Pruitt was complying with federal law and EPA policy when using multiple email accounts and whether all accounts are searched when responding to Freedom of Information Act requests.

I can’t help but wonder how much attention a story like this will generate. Remind me, does the political mainstream care about cabinet secretaries and their email practices?

Putting that aside, some of you might be thinking right about now, “Wait, wasn’t this already the subject of an investigation?” I’m glad you asked.

A few weeks ago, I put together a list of all the various federal investigations into Pruitt’s work, and while I found 13 separate probes, this wasn’t one of them. An investigation into the EPA chief’s email accounts had been requested, but we didn’t know until yesterday that an examination is underway.

And with that in mind, we can now update the overall list, which is now up 14 investigations into Pruitt’s various controversies.

1. The EPA’s inspector general is investigating Pruitt’s controversial travel habits.

2. The House Oversight Committee is also exploring the EPA chief’s use of public funds for first-class travel.

3. The EPA’s inspector general is investigating Pruitt’s behind-the-scenes talks with the National Mining Association.

4. Pruitt’s exorbitant spending on an around-the-clock security detail is the subject of three inspector general investigations.

5. The House Oversight Committee is also examining the EPA chief’s security expenditures.

6. The Government Accountability Office has already investigated Pruitt for exceeding federal spending limits when he bought a $43,000 phone booth for his office.

7. The White House Office of Management and Budget is also investigating the phone booth.

8. The EPA’s inspector general is investigating Pruitt’s use of funds set aside for the Safe Drinking Water Act and diverting the money to give generous raises to two of his top aides.

9. The EPA’s inspector general is investigating Pruitt’s four-day trip to Morocco late last year.

10. The Government Accountability Office is investigating Pruitt’s ouster of scientists from the EPA’s science advisory committee.

11. The Government Accountability Office is investigating whether Pruitt broke lobbying laws with comments he made to the National Cattleman’s Beef Association.

12. The House Oversight Committee is investigating Pruitt’s living arrangement at a lobbyist’s condo.

13. The EPA’s inspector general is now also taking a closer look at Pruitt’s time at that condo.

14. And the EPA’s inspector general is also investigating Pruitt’s use of multiple email accounts.

For those keeping score, the far-right EPA administrator was sworn in at his current post in mid-February 2017 – which means Pruitt has only been on the job for 15 months. Fourteen investigations in 15 months has to be some kind of record, right?

EPA and Scandals

But his emails: EPA's Pruitt faces yet another investigation