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
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Two Democratic senators requested Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Inspector General investigate reports that Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: EPA halts surprise inspections of power, chemical plants | Regulators decline to ban pesticide linked to brain damage | NY awards country's largest offshore wind energy contracts EPA allows continued use of pesticide linked with brain damage Overnight Energy: Trump officials gut DC staff for public lands agency to move West | Democrats slam EPA over scientific boards | Deepwater Horizon most litigated environmental issue of decade MORE uses multiple email accounts to conduct business.

Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperFighting the opioid epidemic: Congress can't just pass laws, but must also push to enforce them Overnight Energy: Scientists flee USDA as research agencies move to Kansas City area | Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules to put industry reps on boards | New rule to limit ability to appeal pollution permits Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules when appointing industry leaders to science boards MORE (D-Del.), the ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyDems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Democrats warm to idea of studying reparations Senate Democrat releasing book on Trump admin's treatment of migrants at border 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.

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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 TrumpUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' 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.