Pruitt put ally in charge of EPA office overseeing key records requests: report

Pruitt put ally in charge of EPA office overseeing key records requests: report
© Greg Nash

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Controversial Trump adviser reportedly returning to EPA | Delta aims to be first carbon neutral airline | Dem senator gives EPA D-minus on 'forever chemicals' Architect of controversial EPA policies to return as chief of staff: report EPA asked to justify proposal to limit power of its science advisers MORE placed a former fundraising ally in charge of the agency's records office last year.

Emails obtained by Politico as part of a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club showed that Pruitt tapped the former treasurer of his political action committee, Elizabeth Beacham White, to be director of its Office of the Executive Secretariat in September.


The office has since tightened control over what information leaves the EPA, including adding an extra layer of review before documents are released and restricting requests for Pruitt's calendars and schedules, Politico reported.

"It's alarming that someone who previously led an important part of Administrator Pruitt's political operation was put in a position with final say over all public releases of his records, facilitating a type of political interference in FOIA that has long been a concern of congressional oversight committees," Andrew Bergman, an analyst at the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight, told Politico.

The EPA confirmed White's role in a statement to the news outlet, stating that she is "an attorney of 18 years with extensive experience in government ethics and compliance that includes previously serving in the federal government."

Pruitt faces a number of scandals over his management of the EPA, including investigations into his personal spending habits and a probe into whether he went around the White House to secure raises for top aides.

Bergman told the news outlet that White's hiring was likely linked to an effort to slow information being released to journalists and watchdog organizations following Pruitt's management of the agency.

"Someone so connected to Pruitt's past and future political ambitions would have a clear motive to slow the release of records that undermine his image. Government service requires public trust, and that should never tangle with political aspirations," he said.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll MORE has expressed support for Pruitt amid his scandals, telling reporters earlier this month that the embattled EPA chief is "doing a great job" at the agency.

“Outside, he's being attacked very viciously by the press,” Trump continued, speaking to reporters earlier this month before the Group of Seven summit. “And I'm not saying that he’s blameless, but we'll see what happens.”