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 PruittOvernight Energy: Court orders EPA to enforce chemical safety rule | Dem says Zinke would 'sell' his grandkids for the oil industry | EPA reportedly poised to unveil climate rule replacement Court throws out EPA delay of Obama chemical plant safety rule The Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) 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 panel spars with Trump administration over treatment of unaccompanied immigrant children Senate study: Trump hasn’t provided adequate support to detained migrant children Overnight Energy: Trump elephant trophy tweets blindsided staff | Execs of chemical plant that exploded during hurricane indicted | Interior to reverse pesticide ban at wildlife refuges 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 PricePelosi seizes on anti-corruption message against GOP White House staff offered discounts at Trump's NJ golf club: report GOP lawmaker calls for ethics rules changes after Collins charged with insider trading 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 MnuchinTurkish president blasts ‘economic coup’ amid heightened tensions with US Overnight Defense: Trump cancels military parade, blames DC for cost | DC mayor hits back | Pentagon warns China 'likely' training for strikes against US | Turkey refuses to release US pastor On The Money: Trump asks SEC to consider ditching quarterly reports | Turkish court refuses to release US pastor | Russia sanctions hearing, vote on consumer chief next week MORE that cost taxpayers at least $25,000.