Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has used four separate agency email addresses since taking office, according to Senate Democrats and an EPA official, prompting concerns among agency lawyers that the EPA has not disclosed all the documents it would normally release to the public under federal records requests.
Two Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee — #Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Tom Carper (Del.) — sent a letter Tuesday to the EPA’s inspector general asking the office to probe the matter.
“We write to share our deep concern over Administrator Pruitt’s reported use of multiple email accounts,” they wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The Washington Post. “It is imperative that there be an investigation into whether the agency has properly searched these email addresses for responsive documents in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.”
Pruitt’s four email addresses include one in the conventional agency format, email@example.com, as well as three others: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, an apparent reference to the University of Oklahoma, whose football team Pruitt follows closely.
Another EPA staffer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation, said that Pruitt’s use of different emails has raised concern among agency lawyers responsible for scouring the administrator’s official correspondence in the course of responding to FOIA requests from journalists and outside groups. If there is an email account that was not searched for records in response to a FOIA inquiry, the official said, that “would be an enormous breach of the public trust.”
“When EPA receives a FOIA request concerning the Administrator’s emails, all accounts associated are searched before we respond to that request,” the EPA’s acting chief information officer, Steve Fine, said in a statement Thursday.