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Gowdy says EPA didn't turn over records

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt didn't turn over the federally required waivers that would...

Posted: Apr 12, 2018 10:27 AM
Updated: Apr 12, 2018 10:27 AM

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt didn't turn over the federally required waivers that would allow him to fly first class for security purposes when he responded to a records request from Congress, Rep. Trey Gowdy said Wednesday.

CNN first reported that the waivers, which are required each time the EPA administrator flies in a cabin other than coach, were not included in the records turned over at the request of Gowdy, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

Gowdy's office sent a new letter to Pruitt Wednesday, pointing out that the EPA "failed to produce all the documents requested" specifically citing the waivers.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox told Politico back in February that Pruitt was granted a "blanket waiver" to travel in first class for security reasons, but the next day, Wilcox changed his statement, saying a waiver was submitted "for every trip."

Federal rules say "blanket authorization of other than coach-class transportation accommodations is prohibited and shall be authorized on an individual trip-by-trip basis, unless the traveler has an up-to-date documented disability or special need."

Gowdy, in his February 20 letter, criticized the EPA, reiterated that "clearly federal regulations prohibit a blanket waiver" for security purposes, and requested that the EPA turn over all the individual waivers Pruitt would need to be able to fly in first class.

But the EPA did not turn them over, and Gowdy's subsequent letter confirms that.

The EPA has consistently said that Pruitt needed to fly first class as a security precaution given unprecedented threats, and the assessment that he could leave quickly if necessary.

The nature of the threats and the security protocol has since been called into question.

Gowdy's new letter also asks for more information on the $50-per-night condo that Pruitt leased from an EPA lobbyist's wife, saying Gowdy has questions about "whether ethics officials who reviewed the lease had access to all relevant information, and whether all applicable ethics rules were considered when those officials concluded the lease agreement complied with federal ethics regulations."

Wilcox told CNN Wednesday the agency will respond to the committee.

"We will respond to Chairman Gowdy through the proper channel," Wilcox said.

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