WASHINGTON – Congressional leaders are demanding information from Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt over allegations he wanted taxpayers to open an office in his hometown of Tulsa, Okla., before he was confirmed by the Senate.
Democrats on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee sent letters this week to Pruitt and the head of the General Services Administration seeking all records that may show there was an attempt to find an office in Tulsa.
The letters say that in early 2017, Ryan Jackson – now Pruitt’s chief of staff but then a top congressional aide – wanted the GSA to look for office space in Tulsa, 250 miles from the EPA regional headquarters in Dallas. Jackson asked that the office include a private, secure phone booth, like the one Pruitt later spent $43,000 to install at EPA headquarters in Washington.
“It appears that even before he was confirmed, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had dreams of dismantling programs to protect air, water and kids from pollution from the comforts of an office in his hometown,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “What better place to have a secure phone booth to receive instructions from the energy lobby, and avoid the pesky expertise of agency scientists and lawyers?”
“Each day brings new evidence of Pruitt’s obsession to embellish the trappings of his office and adorn his days with pricey perquisites, taxpayers be damned. Historians will make note of Pruitt’s record of fleecing the public and attacking public health as signature ‘accomplishments’ of the Trump presidency.”
The Senate did not confirm Pruitt until Feb. 17, 2017. But, according to the letters, Jackson sent an email on Jan. 31, 2017, to the EPA inquiring about a Tulsa office at the behest of Pruitt. At the time, Jackson was a top staff member to Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that has jurisdiction over EPA. Inhofe has long been Pruitt’s political mentor, but now even he thinks there should be an investigation into his protégé’s ethics.
Updated June 6, 2018