Dems call for probe into EPA chief's use of multiple email addresses

Dems call for probe into EPA chief's use of multiple email addresses
© Getty Images

Two Democratic senators requested Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Inspector General investigate reports that Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittSierra Club sues EPA over claim that climate change 'is 50 to 75 years out' EPA on 'forever chemicals': Let them drink polluted water EPA moving ahead with science transparency rule by 'early next year' MORE uses multiple email accounts to conduct business.

Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperInstead of raising the gas tax, stop wasting money on frivolous projects To stave off a recession, let's pass a transportation infrastructure bill Overnight Energy: Trump tweets he's revoking California's tailpipe waiver | Move comes as Trump visits state | California prepares for court fight | Climate activist Greta Thunberg urges lawmakers to listen to scientists MORE (D-Del.), the ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria | Sparks fly at White House meeting on Syria | Dems say Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' | Trump, Graham trade jabs Senate confirms Trump's Air Force secretary pick Democratic senators condemn Trump for calling on China to investigate Bidens MORE (D-Ore.), who also sits on the committee, asked for an investigation into Pruitt's use of three epa.gov email addresses in addition to his public government-issued address, warning that their use may not be in compliance with the Federal Records Act.

"Since early 2017, the EPA has received thousands of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests from the public asking for email records, including those from Administrator Pruitt. With the use of multiple secret email accounts or addresses, we are concerned that the Office of the Administrator may be withholding information from the public in violation of valid FOIA requests," their letter reads.

ADVERTISEMENT

The two said they first learned of Pruitt's use of multiple email accounts at the agency in December, when they were told there were three email addresses. Since then, they said they have been informed that he uses "at least four."

The four known email addresses for Pruitt are pruitt.scott@epa.gov, esp7@epa.gov, adm14pruitt@epa.gov and sooners7@epa.gov, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

The agency later confirmed to The Hill the existence of three email accounts belonging to Pruitt, but said a fourth one that was created was no longer in use.

“The EPA maintains three email accounts which are attributed to Administrator Pruitt: two are used by staff for calendaring and public correspondence; the third is used by the Administrator. A fourth email account was created for use by the Administrator but was superseded and never used beyond three test emails. When we receive a FOIA request all accounts are searched before we respond to the FOIA request," said EPA spokesperson Jahan Wilcox in a statement.

The EPA is facing a record number of FOIA requests under the Trump administration, which has in part led to an extreme backlog in response rates. Between Jan. 20, 2017, and the end of last year, 11,431 FOIA requests were filed to the EPA — an increase of about 17 percent compared to the same time period in former President Obama’s last year in office, a Project on Government Oversight report found.

The letter to the Inspector General was the first in a string of letters sent this week regarding Pruitt's practices. 

A group of Democratic senators and House members, including Carper, sent a letter Thursday to both President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP congressman slams Trump over report that U.S. bombed former anti-ISIS coalition headquarters US to restore 'targeted assistance' to Central American countries after migration deal Trump says lawmakers should censure Schiff MORE and Pruitt requesting additional details surrounding Pruitt's expenses. The letter came after they interviewed a former EPA aid who was reportedly removed from his position for questioning Pruitt's spending.

Updated: 2:37 p.m.