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 & Environment — Biden makes return to pre-Trump national monument boundaries official Trump-era EPA board member sues over firing EPA bans use of pesticide linked to developmental problems in children 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 CarperDemocrats say they have path to deal on climate provisions in spending bill Democratic senator: Methane fee could be 'in jeopardy' Climate activists confront Manchin outside of Capitol 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 PriceWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Former Georgia ethics official to challenge McBath A proposal to tackle congressional inside trading: Invest in the US 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 MnuchinMajor Russian hacking group linked to ransomware attack on Sinclair: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks Former Treasury secretaries tried to resolve debt limit impasse in talks with McConnell, Yellen: report MORE that cost taxpayers at least $25,000.