A self-described nonpartisan watchdog organization filed a complaint Thursday asking the government to investigate EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s travel to Oklahoma.
Pruitt spent almost all of his travel days in March and May in Oklahoma, according to recent reports, American Oversight executive director Austin Eyers wrote in a letter to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), an agency responsible for investigating federal workplace violations.
He also implied that the travels allowed the former Oklahoma attorney general to spend time with various conservative groups in the state, because the travels coincided with events, including one that the American Legislative Exchange Council hosted this past spring.
American Oversight wants the OSC to “immediately open an investigation into whether EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt violated government ethics rules, wasted government funds, or abused his authority by using government resources to travel to his home state,” Eyers’ letter reads.
The letter was referring to a report from Environmental Integrity Project, a watchdog group that obtained copies of travel records showing that Pruitt split time between Oklahoma and Washington, D.C. to visit his family. He stayed in his home state of Oklahoma at least 43 of the 92 days during this last spring, the report notes.
Pruitt, for his part, told reporters that any travel to Oklahoma on personal time comes at his own expense.
EPA spokeswoman Amy Graham claimed that the report is purposely misleading. Most of Pruitt’s travel days were logged on weekends, and he returned to D.C. for work on Monday mornings. The watchdog group, however, calculated those days as missed from work.
“The inconvenient truth is that radical environmentalists are counting weekends, Mondays and Fridays spent in Washington, and holidays like Easter Sunday in their opposition research in an effort to distract from the Administrator’s significant accomplishments, including more than 30 regulatory actions, review of the Clean Power Plan, and rewriting the definition of a ‘Water of the U.S,'” Graham noted.
Former President Barack Obama’s EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy wrestled with similar accusations in 2014. The Obama administration released a daily schedule at the time showing what she did on a typical day, including the fact that she flew home nearly every weekend to spend time with her family.
“Although she keeps a small apartment near EPA headquarters, almost every weekend McCarthy travels back to Boston, to her home and her husband,” according to the EPA. McCarthy considered lowering the country’s pollution a key part of her duty, but her frequent trips contributed to a significant increase in carbon dioxide levels.
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