EPA inspector general further expands probe into Pruitt travel

EPA inspector general further expands probe into Pruitt travel
© Greg Nash

The Environmental Protection Agency’s internal inspector general is again expanding its investigation into the travel habits of agency head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittWith offshore drilling scheme, Trump's America looks like a banana republic Overnight Energy: California regulators vote to close nuclear plant | Watchdog expands Pruitt travel probe | Washington state seeks exemption from offshore drilling plan Overnight Regulation: Fight erupts over gun export rules | WH meets advocates on prison reform | Officials move to allow Medicaid work requirements | New IRS guidance on taxes MORE.

An internal memo dated Jan. 10 alerts the agency of the amendment to the investigation, which expands the dates of travel covered in the probe to include Pruitt’s travel through the end of 2017. The memo noted that the decision to expand the probe came in response to “additional congressional requests.”

Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperSenate Finance Dems want more transparency on trade from Trump Overnight Energy: California regulators vote to close nuclear plant | Watchdog expands Pruitt travel probe | Washington state seeks exemption from offshore drilling plan Overnight Regulation: Fight erupts over gun export rules | WH meets advocates on prison reform | Officials move to allow Medicaid work requirements | New IRS guidance on taxes MORE (D-Del.) requested the investigation include Pruitt’s December trip to Morocco, which reportedly cost $40,000 in taxpayer dollars.

In a Dec. 18 letter to the inspector general, Carper wrote that one purpose of Pruitt’s trip was to promote natural gas exports and that the trip should be scrutinized because the EPA does not oversee natural gas.

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The inspector general's memo notes that the objectives of the investigation remain the same: determining the “frequency, cost and extent” of Pruitt’s travel and whether agency policies and procedures were followed.

This is the second time the inspector general has expanded its probe into Pruitt’s travel habits. The probe was originally limited to his travel via noncommercial flights through July 31, which had cost more than $58,000.

The investigation was expanded in October to include his taxpayer-funded flights through the end of September.

The office is also looking into Pruitt’s April meeting with a coal mining industry group and his decision to have a $25,000 soundproof phone booth installed in his office.

The use of private flights by officials has plagued the Trump administration.

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceOvernight Health Care: House GOP considers adding health measures to funding bill | WH doctor says Trump in 'excellent' health | Gallup: Number of uninsured up 3M in 2017 | CDC chief to miss fourth hearing New watchdog group targets Trump HHS on reproductive health EPA inspector general further expands probe into Pruitt travel MORE resigned last year over reports about his pricey travel habits and promised to pay back $52,000 to cover “his seat” on the flights.

And the Treasury Department has looked into a flight taken by Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinWeek ahead: Lawmakers eye another short-term spending bill Reagan balanced trade — Trump can, too GOP may increase IRS’s budget MORE that cost taxpayers at least $25,000.