Gowdy Presses EPA’s Pruitt For Info On First Class Flights, Townhouse Deal

Nearly two months after requesting information from the Environmental Protection Agency on Administrator Scott Pruitt’s repeated use of first class air travel, House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said on Wednesday that he hasn’t gotten everything he asked for.

The chairman also asked new questions about the sweetheart townhouse deal Pruitt signed last year with a lobbying power couple, one of whom has several clients with business before the EPA. Gowdy is one of a number of committee chairmen to announce their retirements from Congress in recent months. 

Though the EPA has released some travel-related documents, Gowdy said in his new letter to Pruitt, “the EPA has failed to produce all the documents requested on February 20, 2018.”

Specifically, Gowdy asked for documents showing that Pruitt received authorizations for each of his business- or first-class flights. The EPA, he recalled, had justified Pruitt’s first class flights by saying there were “specific, ongoing threats associated with the Administrator’s air travel.” Two Democratic senators, quoting internal EPA documents, seriously undermined the credibility of that claim Tuesday.

CNN noted that in his Feb. 20 letter, Gowdy criticized an EPA spokesperson, Jahan Wilcox, who’d originally claimed that Pruitt had a “blanket waiver” to travel first class. Federal regulations Gowdy quoted explicitly say such blanket waivers are “prohibited” except in cases of disability or special need.

Gowdy also pointed to an April 4 memo from EPA Ethics Official Kevin Minoli, who’d previously approved Pruitt’s below-market-rate townhouse lease. In the memo, Minoli said he actually hadn’t had all of the necessary factual information when he first announced his approval of the lease after reports of it went public.

“These memoranda are insufficient to evaluate compliance with federal ethics rules,” Gowdy wrote, before listing several requests relating to the townhouse deal.

Read Gowdy’s new letter to Pruitt below:

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