Scott Pruitt has used at least four Environmental Protection Agency “secret” email addresses since taking up his post as Administrator, sparking concern from lawmakers that the EPA has been withholding records when responding to the thousands of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that have been submitted since Pruitt took office.
One of those emails, email@example.com, appears to be a direct reference to the University of Oklahoma’s football team, the Oklahoma Sooners, that Pruitt is a fan of.
In a letter to the agency’s Inspector General, Democratic Sens. Jeffrey Merkley of Oregon and Thomas Carper of Delaware requested an investigation into the use of multiple emails, expressing their “deep concern” about whether Pruitt was complying with federal law and records management policies.
Pruitt’s emails include firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, according to the Washington Post. Two of the email addresses were used for scheduling and interacting with the public. A third was for Pruitt’s personal use, and the fourth was never used besides three test emails, according to Bloomberg.
The EPA’s acting chief information officer, Steve Fine, denied to the Washington Post that any information would be missing, saying in a statement that they search every email.
“When EPA receives a FOIA request concerning the Administrator’s emails, all accounts associated are searched before we respond to that request,” the statement read.
The news comes at an already tense time for Pruitt, who has been under fire for a series of scandals, including the misuse of funds for his personal security detail, demoting or assigning employees who tried to call out issues, and extravagant travel spending to name a few.
Five Democratic lawmakers sent a letter directly to Pruitt Thursday after the EPA’s former Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Kevin Chmielewski, corroborated nearly all the scandals that Pruitt has been embroiled in over the past month.
Chmielewski detailed stories of Pruitt misusing taxpayer dollars for travel, giving favorable salaries to his closest aides, and using “lights and sirens” to get to meetings, social events, and the airport faster, among other stories that have been reported.
“Mr. Chmielewski provided new details and corroborated other reports regarding allegations of wasteful spending of taxpayer funds and your disregard for the ethical and legal requirements of your position,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “Mr. Chmielewski described an environment in which you sought to marginalize, remove or otherwise retaliate against agency employees who advised you not to take these troubling actions, or refused to take or justify such actions at your direction. “