Vitter demands congressional investigation into EPA fraud case

Sen. David VitterDavid VitterYou're fired! Why it's time to ditch the Fed's community banker seat Overnight Energy: Trump set to propose sharp cuts to EPA, energy spending Former La. official tapped as lead offshore drilling regulator MORE (R-La.) is spearheading calls for a congressional investigation into recent federal fraud charges against a former top official at the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Vitter, the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said the charges, reported by The Washington Post on Saturday, are indicative of a pattern of corruption at the federal regulatory agency.

"There appears to be corruption to the umpteenth degree," at the EPA, Vitter said in a statement Saturday.

"It’s clear that further investigations are necessary, and at the appropriate time we’ll need answers – a whole lot of answers," he added.

Former EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator John Beale is accused of stealing a total of $886,186 between 2000 and April of this year.

The thefts occurred when Beal was serving as the head of the agency's Office of Air and Radiation division, according to court documents.

The Louisiana Republican did not include details as to when an investigation into the Beale case could begin. But with lawmakers expected to return to Washington in September, hearings into the matter could be called as soon as next month.

Vitter has been a staunch adversary of the agency since taking the No. 2 spot on the Senate environment panel.

In July, Vitter dropped his threat to filibuster President Obama’s nomination of Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyOvernight Energy: EPA releases ozone findings | Lawmakers come out against Perry grid plan | Kids sue Trump on climate change Congress must come to terms on climate change regulation EPA to repeal landmark Obama climate rule MORE to run the Environmental Protection Agency.

Vitter dropped his filibuster threat only after forcing the White House and Senate Democrats to back "commitments" to be more transparent regarding the agency's operations.

"These are huge, significant steps forward to bringing transparency to the agency," Vitter said at the time.

"I see no further reason to block Gina McCarthy’s nomination, and I’ll support moving to an up-or-down vote on her nomination,” the Louisiana Republican added.