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 PruittEPA moving ahead with science transparency rule by 'early next year' Overnight Energy: Trump administration to repeal waterway protections| House votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge| Administration takes key step to open Alaskan refuge to drilling by end of year Trump administration to repeal waterway protections 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 TrumpMarine unit in Florida reportedly pushing to hold annual ball at Trump property Giuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it 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.”