Sen. Murkowski questions Scott Pruitt during budget hearing for EPA

Posted May 17, 2018

The controversies around Pruitt have triggered some 12 investigations by the EPA's inspector general, congressional committees and the White House. Last month, the GAO determined that EPA violated federal law when it bought and installed the booth.

The latest investigation is looking into whether those records have been properly kept. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who made a brief appearance at the hearing. Oh c'mon, " Leahy said.

The hearing was the toughest grilling Pruitt has yet faced about ethical issues, ranging from his use of taxpayer money to fly first class to outsized spending on his personal security.

"As you know, the right answer is yes", Udall said.

Leahy belittled Pruitt's claim that he needed to fly first class because of security concerns.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who has often refrained from questioning Pruitt's spending habits during public hearings and instead focused on agency accomplishments and activities, admitted Wednesday that she felt the multiple probes were overshadowing the EPA's goal. But policy matters were mostly overshadowed as senators pressed the administrator about his around-the-clock security protection, taxpayer-funded travel, spending decisions at the EPA and raises for top aides over White House objections.

Pruitt, who did not refer to Hupp by name but called her "a longtime friend, " said that when it came to her assistance, "it's my understanding that all activity there was on personal time".

He also touted all the regulations his agency has dismantled. Tom Udall (D-MN) during a budget hearing Wednesday.

"When we receive a FOIA request all accounts are searched before we respond to the FOIA request", he said.

"Then that's a gift, that's a violation of federal law", Sen. "The Democrats couldn't block the confirmation of environmental policy expert and former EPA staffer under both a Republican and a Democrat president". Internal emails show how EPA officials shielded Pruitt from facing questions from the public and reporters.

Joanne Spalding, chief climate counsel at the Sierra Club, adds, "We've warned [EPA administrator] Scott Pruitt that any attack on our clean air or water would be met by resistance in the streets and in the courtroom".

Asked again if he had personally made the request, Pruitt said, "I don't recall that". "Those policies were followed to the best of my knowledge".

Udall then disclosed an internal email from then-EPA special agent Pasquale "Nino" Perrotta indicating Pruitt wanted the sirens used.

The administrator also confirmed he has established a legal defense fund to address the multiple inquiries he faces. All donations to the fund would be published and available to the public, he said, and he committed "absolutely" not to accept any donations from lobbyists or companies that have business before the EPA.

Pruitt, who served as Oklahoma's attorney general before he was appointed to lead the EPA in February a year ago, has been under fire for splashing budget money on first-class travel, costly accommodation overseas, bulletproof vests and weapons for his 24-hour security detail, biometric locks and other excesses, including a $43,000 soundproof phone booth - all in the name of security. "A simple yes or no, please" Udall said.

"Did you pay them at the time for doing that work?"

"I've supported Pruitt but if he pushes changes to RFS that permanently cut ethanol by billions of gallons he will have broken Trump promise & should step down & let someone else do the job of implementing Trump agenda", Grassley wrote on Twitter.

In January, embattled EPA head (and mortal enemy of Captain Planet and the Planeteers) Scott Pruitt stymied the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service (HHS)'s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry from publishing a major new study.