EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt Has Sought New EPA Office Complete with Secure Facility in Hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma
(Washington, DC) – Today, Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight, Congressman Donald S. Beyer Jr. (D-VA) and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Environment, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) sent two records request letters to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the General Services Administration (GSA). The letters request documents and communications regarding EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s efforts to establish a new EPA office in his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, despite the fact that EPA already has a regional office in nearby Dallas, Texas. The Administrator requested the new office include a conference room, secure parking space, and a Secure Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). Earlier this month the Government Accountability Office (GAO) ruled that the EPA’s construction of a “soundproof privacy booth in the EPA Administrator’s office” in Washington, D.C., which reportedly has not been certified as a SCIF, was unlawful because it violated the Antideficiency Act.
It is unclear what progress the EPA and GSA have made in establishing a new EPA office in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The efforts first began in January 2017 when Mr. Ryan Jackson, the then Staff Director of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, asked the EPA to explore establishing a Tulsa office for Administrator Pruitt, just days before Mr. Jackson was hired by Administrator Pruitt as the EPA’s Chief of Staff.
This most recent case of questionable financial management adds to the growing concerns about Administrator Pruitt’s misuse of taxpayers’ funds and potential ethical lapses in judgement. Aside from the recent GAO findings, the EPA Inspectors General’s (IG’s) office is currently investigating Administrator Pruitt’s frequent travel home to Oklahoma, his foreign trips, and his use of first class travel arrangements and charter aircraft. The IG’s office is also investigating his use of an EPA security detail on personal trips. The Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has requested material from Administrator Pruitt’s office regarding his arrangement to pay $50 per night to stay in a Washington, D.C. condominium owned by a lobbyist whose firm had clients with business before the EPA. In addition, Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has launched a review of Scott Pruitt’s spending habits as EPA Administrator.
“Establishing a new EPA office in Tulsa may be personally convenient for you, but it seems ethically questionable, professionally unnecessary, and financially unjustified,” the Ranking Members wrote to Administrator Pruitt.