GOP chairman probes Pruitt’s four email addresses

GOP chairman probes Pruitt’s four email addresses
© Greg Nash

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) top GOP Senate overseer is looking into the agency’s use of four different email addresses for Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Court rejects new effort to stop kids' climate lawsuit | Baltimore is latest city to sue over climate change | EPA staffers worried about toxic chemical in Pruitt's desk Pruitt staffers worried about toxic chemical in his desk Andrew Wheeler must reverse damage to American heartland MORE.

In a letter sent Friday and obtained by The Hill, Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoThe law to protect endangered species in America is working Republican bill aims to deter NATO members from using Russian pipeline Overnight Energy: Fewer than half of school districts test for lead | Dems slam proposed changes to Endangered Species Act | FEMA avoids climate change when discussing plan for future storms MORE (R-Wyo.) asked Pruitt whether the agency has ensured that federal records requests involving him are searching all of his addresses.

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“Can you confirm that the EPA does in fact search all your official email accounts when responding to [Freedom of Information Act] requests?” Barrasso asked Pruitt in the letter. He also asked the EPA head to provide a list of all of the email accounts that Pruitt uses.

Two Democratic senators revealed last week that the EPA has four addresses for Pruitt. The Washington Post reported that the addresses are pruitt.scott@epa.gov, esp7@epa.gov, adm14pruitt@epa.gov and sooners7@epa.gov.

The EPA said at the time that two of them are used by staff for scheduling and correspondence, one is used by Pruitt himself and one hasn’t been used except for three test emails.

Agency heads frequently have email accounts that aren’t revealed to the public, in addition to standard accounts to which anyone could send messages.

An EPA spokesman said the agency “will respond to Chairman Barrasso through the proper channels.”

Barrasso was a leading voice in criticizing then-EPA head Lisa Jackson in 2013, when the agency admitted that she had an email account under the alias “Richard Windsor” that she used extensively for official business.

He and other Republicans accused Jackson of trying to hide her emails from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, while the EPA at the time said the Richard Windsor account was fully incorporated into FOIA searches.

Barrasso specifically asked Pruitt about the issue during his confirmation hearing in January 2017.

"If confirmed, will you refrain from taking any such action that makes it difficult or impossible for the public to access your official written communications under the Freedom of Information Act," Barrasso asked.

"Yes," he responded.

EPA officials have said Pruitt’s alternative accounts are included in FOIA searches as well, although Barrasso nonetheless asked Pruitt to confirm that in writing.

Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySunk judicial pick spills over into Supreme Court fight Controversial Trump judicial nominee withdraws Anti-Trump protesters hold candlelight vigil by White House MORE (D-Ore.) and Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: Fewer than half of school districts test for lead | Dems slam proposed changes to Endangered Species Act | FEMA avoids climate change when discussing plan for future storms Dems slam proposed changes to Endangered Species Act Full interview: Democratic candidate Kerri Evelyn Harris discusses her Senate campaign in Delaware MORE (D-Del.) are also probing Pruitt’s email accounts. In the letter revealing the additional accounts, they asked the EPA’s Office of Inspector General to launch an investigation.