Whistleblower says Pruitt kept secret calendar to hide meetings with industry reps: report

Whistleblower says Pruitt kept secret calendar to hide meetings with industry reps: report
© Greg Nash

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog says agency failed to properly monitor asbestos at schools| Watchdog won’t investigate former Superfund head’s qualifications| Florence causes toxic coal ash spill in North Carolina White House officials discussing potential replacements for FEMA chief: report Trump’s EPA chooses coal over the American people MORE and his aides maintained "secret" calendars in order to prevent controversial meetings or calls with industry representatives from getting out publicly, according to a CNN report.

The news outlet reported on Monday that the findings were revealed by a former EPA official who is scheduled to testify before Congress soon. 

The report says that EPA staffers consistently met in Pruitt's office to go through a process in which they would either remove or alter records from the EPA chief's calendar. Kevin Chmielewski, Pruitt's former deputy chief of staff for operations, reportedly said the reasoning for this was because the meetings could "look bad."

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The scrubbing led to a noticeable difference between Pruitt's public calendar and what internal EPA schedules and emails show. CNN notes that more than two dozen meetings, events or calls were removed from his public calendar.

Chmielewski, who said he was forced to leave the agency in February because he questioned its spending and management, said some meetings were purposefully omitted from Pruitt's calendar after they happened. For example, Pruitt's meeting with Cardinal George Pell, who faces multiple charges of sexual offenses related to past conduct, was removed from the calendar. 

"We would have meetings, what we were going to take off on the official schedule. We had at one point three different schedules. One of them was one that no one else saw except three or four of us," Chmielewski told CNN. "It was a secret ... and they would decide what to nix from the public calendar."

CNN noted that if the allegations are true, the EPA's practice of removing or altering public calendars could violate federal law. 

The controversy over Pruitt's public calendar is one of many that have ensnared the EPA chief. The top ethics official at EPA, Kevin Minoli, called for an investigation into Pruitt over the weekend. 

Minoli said in a letter that he'd like investigations into Pruitt's rental of a Capitol Hill condominium from the wife of an energy lobbyist, taxpayer spending on travel and allegations that Pruitt had an aide help him with personal matters, including searching for housing during work hours.

CNN reports that at least 14 federal probes are focusing on Pruitt's spending, management and ethics.