The New York Times issued a major correction to a story full of allegations that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt used aides for personal, not official, errands.
The lengthy correction, issued Saturday, retracts NYT’s claim that Pruitt reached out to the former speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates to write a letter of recommendation for his daughter McKenna.
NYT was forced to retract the claim that former speaker William Howell wrote a letter to the University of Virginia School of Law’s dean on McKenna’s behalf shortly after Pruitt took office. It turns out, Howell wrote the letter of recommendation before Pruitt took over EPA.
An earlier version of this article included an item that erroneously described Scott Pruitt’s use of his position at the Environmental Protection Agency for personal matters. While a Virginia lawmaker, William Howell, said he wrote a letter of recommendation to the University of Virginia Law School on behalf of Mr. Pruitt’s daughter, McKenna, he actually wrote it while Mr. Pruitt was the attorney general of Oklahoma. After publication of the article, additional research by a legislative aide, Mr. Howell said, showed he had incorrectly stated the date of the letter, which he said was actually written on Nov. 1, 2016, more than three months before Mr. Pruitt was confirmed as E.P.A. administrator, in February 2017. The law school, which had declined to comment for the article because of privacy concerns, issued a statement on Saturday saying Ms. Pruitt had given the school permission to confirm that she had been offered early admission in late November 2016 and that the “application was evaluated according to our usual admissions procedures.” The material about Ms. Pruitt’s application has been removed from the article.
The article was only the latest in a series written on Pruitt’s time at EPA, highlighting alleged ethical lapses and overspending. NYT relied heavily on former EPA official Kevin Chmielewski, who left EPA earlier this year.
Chmielewski has been the source of numerous media hits on Pruitt and gave Democrats a list of allegations against Pruitt. Congress and federal investigators are probing many of the claims made against Pruitt.
However, this is not the first correction NYT has issued for a story regarding Pruitt’s handling of EPA. NYT issued a correction in April for an article about Pruitt’s former security detail head, Nino Perrotta.
NYT reported that 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.” (RELATED: Upcoming Research Will Buck The ‘Consensus’ And Show Antarctica Is Still Gaining Ice)
However, The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained an email from Henry Barnet, director of EPA’s Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics and Training, saying that Perrotta was not, in fact, drinking beers with Sullivan that day — Chmielewski was, though.
Chmielewski’s attendance at the meeting is not mentioned in NYT’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.
NYT’s May 16 correction read:
An earlier version of this article erroneously included Pasquale Perrotta among those who gathered for beers at an event at the Elephant and Castle in Washington that was attended by Patrick Sullivan, the assistant inspector general who oversees investigations at the E.P.A. Mr. Sullivan said that Mr. Perrotta had been invited but did not attend that gathering and that he has never met for drinks with Mr. Perrotta, though he acknowledged that the two men met for lunch several months later at another restaurant near the E.P.A. headquarters. A picture caption with the story repeated the error. The caption also erroneously stated that Mr. Perrotta and Mr. Sullivan served together in the Secret Service. They both worked for the Secret Service, but did not serve together.
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