Energy

LETTER: Scott Pruitt Never Opened An EPA Office In His Hometown

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt did not end up renting office space in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to letters obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The EPA sent letters on Wednesday to three top Democrats on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, telling lawmakers Pruitt never ended up renting office space in Tulsa.

“Although the EPA staff did explore whether office space was available in Tulsa, this possibility was ultimately abandoned,” EPA Associate Administrator Troy Lyons wrote on Pruitt’s behalf to House Democrats.

Lyons sent letters to Democratic Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon and Don Beyer of Virginia. The three lawmakers wrote to the EPA in May asking for documents regarding Pruitt’s alleged effort “to establish a new EPA office in his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.”

Pruitt is under fire for alleged overspending and ethical lapses, including flying first class, renting a room from the wife of a D.C. lobbyist and spending millions on security. Congress and the EPA’s Office of Inspector General have investigations into Pruitt’s actions.

Democrats argued Pruitt’s effort to secure a hometown office may amount to another “ethically questionable” decision by the administrator.

“Establishing a new EPA office in Tulsa may be personally convenient for you, but it seems ethically questionable, professionally unnecessary, and financially unjustified,” Democrats wrote to Pruitt and the General Services Administration (GSA). (RELATED: ‘Conservative’ Carbon Tax Plan Hinges On GOP … Losing Seats In Congress?)

Emails reviewed by TheDCNF, however, showed that Pruitt asked EPA officials to find a place “where he could work” while home in Oklahoma — a less nefarious motive than Democrats insinuated.

Messages sent primarily between Jackson and senior policy adviser James Blizzard in early 2017 — before Pruitt was confirmed — show the two working to find the administrator office space to rent while he was in Oklahoma, where his family and permanent residence are.

Pruitt would need an “episodic telework agreement” so he could periodically conduct official business while in Tulsa, Blizzard told Jackson in January 2017. Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has a similar arrangement, Blizzard suggested.

Blizzard got the “wheels in motion” on Feb. 1, 2017, he told Jackson, by emailing GSA’s Saul Japson with details on what kind of federal office space they were looking for and offering to connect the “proper folks” at both agencies to move the process along.

The Senate confirmed Pruitt on Feb. 17, and Democrats wanted to know whether or not EPA and GSA moved forward with getting Pruitt his hometown office space. Prior to the EPA, Pruitt served as Oklahoma’s attorney general.

Read one letter here.

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