More Hearings, More Deception

EPA Administrators Continues Making False Statements to Congress

May 16, 2018
Keith Gaby, (202) 572-3336,

After admitting to false statements at Congressional hearings in late April, Scott Pruitt continued his pattern of false and misleading statements in testimony before Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.

  • On the $43,000- phone booth: 
    • Pruitt:  When asked about the phone booth, Pruitt said to fix spending controls “I started a process shortly after finding out.” 
    • The Truth: Pruitt announced new internal spending controls on April 27, 2018, one day after being criticized about the phone booth at House hearings.  But the phone booth story broke on September 17, 2017.   Pruitt waited 222 days after the story broke to implement new internal controls that he is now trying to get credit for.
  • On the use of sirens in his motorcade:
    • Pruitt: “I don’t recall” asking that sirens be used in his motorcades (allegations include asking his motorcade to turn on emergency sirens to get to a restaurant.)
    • The Truth:  Senator Udall pointed to an EPA email released today showing that former EPA security chief Pasquale Perrotta said that Pruitt “encourages the use” of motorcade sirens.

“I’m worried you are spending all your time enriching yourself and your friends while betraying your mission to protect human health and the environment, said New Mexico Senator Tom Udall said.  “That is the exact swamp that President Trump was trying to get rid of.”

And unlike the House hearings, not one Republican senator today claimed that the attacks on Pruitt were all about politics and policy differences.

While Pruitt’s deceptions provided highlights, his dangerous attacks on public health and environmental safeguards were not lost on some of the senators. In an opening statement, Senator Udall called Pruitt’s scandals, “a mere sideshow distracting us from the lasting impacts your administration is having on public health and the environment.” Senator Leahy followed, saying, “You’ve flipped the mission of the EPA on its head to protect big polluters instead of the people.”

EDF will continue to unpack the hearing’s most critical moments while encouraging senators from both parties to pursue the many questions that remain unanswered.  

Before the hearing, EDF updated its list of unanswered questions about Pruitt’s controversies:

$43,000 Phone Booth: Last month, Pruitt insisted that he asked for a “secure line” because of a single telephone call. What was so important about that call? And Pruitt went on to admit that such calls are “rare”—if so, why can’t he go to one of EPA’s two other secure phones, as his predecessors did?

  • Lobbyist Influence:  Why were lobbyists arranging Pruitt’s overseas trips to places like Morocco and Australia?
  • Enforcement: Why did Pruitt try to end EPA funding for Justice Department Superfund enforcement efforts, and cut EPA enforcement against criminal polluters?
  • Super-polluting trucks: EPA proposed a loophole for super-polluting trucks, citing an industry-funded study now being investigated for research misconduct. Will it withdraw the proposal?
  • Illegal Use of Government staff:  Did Pruitt’s use of his employee Millan Hupp to look for his apartment constitute a gift that it is illegal not to report, as Senator Udall alleged today?
  • Demoting Staff: Did Pruitt tell his chief of staff not to come to travel planning meetings after he raised concerns about Pruitt’s travel?
  • Kell Kelly: Did Pruitt ever inquire why Kell Kelly—who has now stepped down from the his senior EPA post—was banned for life from banking by the FDIC when he hired him?
  • Condo: On the condo lease, why was Stephen Hart’s name originally typed in as “landlord,” but then scratched out and the name of his wife scribbled in?
  • Private Jet: Was it Pruitt who sought to have the EPA pay $100,000 per month to rent a private jet, as Trump campaign staffer and EPA Deputy Chief of Staff Kevin Chmielewski claims?
  • Morocco Trip: Before traveling to Morocco, why was Pruitt’s only briefing before the trip conducted by political staff, not career staff in the agency’s international affairs office, which typically coordinates foreign trips?
  • Lavish Travel:  Newly released EPA documents reveal that Pruitt’s schedule called for him to spend 4 hours during his 2-day trip to Rome in work meetings, but more than 9 hours in private, non-work related meals and private tours of the Apostolic Palace, Vatican Library, and Scavi—as well as a private mass at the Vatican. Why was so much time on this official trip devoted to private interests?
  • Oklahoma Travel: As Oklahoma Attorney General, in January 2016 Pruitt traveled to Washington, D.C., costing Oklahoma taxpayers more than $1,000 to meet with the Federalist Society and Club for Growth. Did Pruitt reimburse taxpayers? Did he use taxpayer money for political or personal trips?
  • Missing in Action:  On May 7, Axios reported that since Pruitt’s April 26 congressional testimony, “senior staff outside his inner circle have had virtually no idea of his whereabouts.” Is that true?

# # #

Environmental Defense Fund (, a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.