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 PruittJuan Williams: Swamp creature at the White House Science protections must be enforceable Conspicuous by their absence from the Republican Convention MORE.

In a letter sent Friday and obtained by The Hill, Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTrump's Teflon problem: Nothing sticks, including the 'wins' Senate to push funding bill vote up against shutdown deadline The conservative case for phasing out hydrofluorocarbons 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 MerkleyThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Trump, Biden renew push for Latino support Sunday shows - Trump team defends coronavirus response Oregon senator says Trump's blame on 'forest management' for wildfires is 'just a big and devastating lie' MORE (D-Ore.) and Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperThe conservative case for phasing out hydrofluorocarbons Democrat asks for probe of EPA's use of politically appointed lawyers Overnight Energy: Study links coronavirus mortality to air pollution exposure | Low-income, minority households pay more for utilities: report 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.