Sunday, 20 May, 2018

Senate hearing focuses on EPA Pruitt's spending

Alex Edelman  Getty Images North America Alex Edelman Getty Images North America
Ellis Copeland | 16 May, 2018, 22:21

Lisa Murkowski, who heads a Senate Appropriations subcommittee, told Pruitt at a hearing normally expected to focus on budget matters.

During an interview with ABC News, Kevin Chmielewski, Pruitt's former deputy chief of staff, said the administrator's assertion was a "bold-faced" lie.

Since his testimony on April 26, solid evidence Pruitt may have lied when he told lawmakers that no EPA employees faced retaliation for questioning his lavish spending on premium travel has come to light.

The Democrat senator followed up for a third time: "You personally requested that on a number of trips?" he asked Pruitt. Altogether, the agency has spent about $3 million on Pruitt's 20-member full-time security detail, which is more than three times the size of his predecessor's part-time security contingent.

On Wednesday, Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) wrote to the Inspector General's office at the EPA asking for yet another investigation into the sirens and other unusual security measures, noting that the agency has ignored their requests for information.

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During his previous appearances in front of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on January 30, and before the House Energy and Commerce Committee and a House appropriations subcommittee on April 26, Pruitt was not under oath.

At one of the House hearings last month, Pruitt spoke broadly of taking responsibility for changes at his agency, and said he had "made changes" in his practice of first- and business-class travel.

Pruitt isn't answering directly.

Perrotta, who wrote the email about the use of lights and sirens, also drafted a memo a year ago saying Pruitt needed to fly in premium class seats because of security threats.

In a February 2017 email released Wednesday by Democratic Sens. Tom Udall of New Mexico, Pruitt replied that it didn't happen. "Forget about your own ego and your first class travel and your special phone booths that just make you a laughingstock and your agency a laughingstock".

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