An email casts doubt on a key detail of The New York Times’s profile on Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s former head of security — a detail that impugned the impartiality of a top official in the EPA inspector general’s office.
Pruitt’s former security head Nino Perrotta and Assistant Inspector General Patrick Sullivan were “spotted drinking beers together at Elephant & Castle, a bar across the street from the EPA headquarters,” despite “concerns” raised over Perrotta’s “oversight of Mr. Pruitt’s security,” The New York Times reported in April.
The New York Times relied on “interviews with current and former senior agency officials,” including whistleblower Kevin Chmielewski, who recently gave Democratic lawmakers a laundry list of accusations against Pruitt.
Many of Chmielewski’s claims have been challenged by news reports and EPA officials, and now there’s new evidence contradicting a key detail of The New York Times’s reporting on Perrotta.
An email obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation provides more evidence that Perrotta and Sullivan did not drink at a bar together across the street from EPA offices. The email corroborates denials by EPA the two socialized outside of work.
The New York Times report refers to an after-hours meeting at the restaurant Elephant & Castle that took place in late July 2017, according to multiple sources familiar with the meeting.
The article mentioned the meeting after reporting officials who had “crossed” Perrotta “have told associates that they are concerned Mr. Perrotta will not be held to account by the inspector general,” suggesting Perrotta and Sullivan’s alleged friendship would bias any investigation.
Based on the report, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sent a letter to the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, demanding an investigation into Sullivan’s conduct.
However, in a May 1, 2018 email, Henry Barnet, director of EPA’s Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics and Training, told another EPA official that “Perrotta was not in attendance” at the Elephant & Castle meeting a year earlier.
“On July 25, 2017, I attended an after-hours meeting at Elephant and Castle,” Barnet wrote in the email.
“According to my calendar, the meeting was coordinated by EPA-OIG Assistant Inspector General of Investigations Patrick Sullivan and the purpose was to discuss how the homeland security function operates at the Department of Interior (DOI),” Barnet wrote.
“The following individuals were in attendance: Patrick Sullivan, Kevin Chmielewski, retired OCEFT Special Agent Jim Caldwell, an agent from DOI, and me,” Barnet wrote. “Nino Perrotta was not in attendance.”
Chmielewski’s attendance at the meeting is not mentioned in The New York Times’s April report. Recent reports suggest Chmielewski lied on his resume about his military service, and he did not file a legally required financial disclosure form while working for EPA. It’s also unclear if NYT was made aware of Barnet’s statement.
The Office of Inspector General has repeatedly denied that Perrotta and Sullivan socialize after work. They are friendly with one another, the OIG’s office has said, and cooperate when they need to share information, but they “do not socialize outside of work.”
A source familiar with the Elephant & Castle meeting told TheDCNF, “Nino doesn’t drink beer and wasn’t there.” The source added that “there’s a complete split between the OIG and the rest of EPA.”
Both Perrotta and Sullivan were Secret Service agents before heading to EPA, although their service did not overlap. Perrotta briefly served in with the OIG after he joined EPA in 2004, but the two did not meet each other until 2011.
Perrotta has also denied socializing after-hours with Sullivan, telling TheDCNF in an exclusive interview such a claim was absurd because he does not drink beer. Perrotta said Chmielewski and others behind these false claims are “disgruntled employees” looking for revenge.
“I believe at the end of the day, these are disgruntled employees — staffers — who, for whatever reason, decided to air dirty laundry — false dirty laundry to the press,” Perrotta told TheDCNF.
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