WASHINGTON – Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt will face tough questioning during two different House hearings on Thursday, April 26.
Pruitt, who is embroiled in multiple scandals, will testify at hearings with the House Appropriations and Energy and Commerce committees.
- At 10 a.m., Pruitt will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
- At 2 p.m., Pruitt will testify before the House Appropriations Committee.
You can watch both of the hearings right here on ClickOnDetroit.com
Republicans want answers from Pruitt as ethics woes mount
Republican senators said Wednesday they want President Donald Trump’s embattled environmental chief to address questions about ethics and spending decisions, but so far are stopping short of calling for him to step down.
Scott Pruitt’s answers at House hearings Thursday could prove crucial in determining whether he stays atop the Environmental Protection Agency, lawmakers said.
Republicans have largely stood behind Pruitt as he fends off a barrage of ethics troubles, and said they are encouraged by his efforts to ease federal regulations on manufacturing, mining and other industries. But as fresh allegations against Pruitt keep surfacing, Republicans increasingly are raising doubts about his job security.
Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and John Thune, R-S.D., said Pruitt faces “serious questions” about his use of taxpayer money.
“I want to make sure taxpayers are getting value for their dollars, make sure money is being spent appropriately. So there continue to be serious questions,” said Barrasso, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “We’ll see what comes out of the hearings on Thursday.”
Even Pruitt’s political mentor, GOP Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, called recent allegations about Pruitt “concerning.”
Inhofe said he generally has been pleased with the performance of Pruitt — a former Oklahoma attorney general — in rolling back regulations and “restoring the EPA to its proper size and scope.”
But he said “these latest reports are new to me. While I have no reason to believe they are true, they are concerning and I think we should hear directly from Administrator Pruitt about them.”
While Trump has previously backed Pruitt, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders appeared noncommittal on Wednesday. “We’re evaluating these concerns and we expect the EPA administrator to answer for them,” Sanders said.
Pruitt faces questions about his use of shell companies in Oklahoma real estate deals and spending taxpayer money for such personal perks as fist-class airline seats. The Associated Press and other news media reported this week that EPA’s security chief worked on the side as a private investigator for the owner of a tabloid news company with close ties to Trump.
EPA special agent Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta performed regular work for National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc. during the 2016 election, according to person with knowledge of the company’s internal workings. The person was not authorized to speak publicly about the company’s operations and spoke on condition of anonymity.
In addition to his job at EPA, Perrotta is the top executive at Sequoia Security Group, a Maryland-based security firm.
At Pruitt’s scheduled appearances before two House committees Thursday, lawmakers were expected to focus on ethical issues, including reports that he lived in a bargain-priced condominium linked to a lobbyist whose firm’s clients have business before EPA.
Pruitt met in his office last year with the lobbyist, Steven Hart, even though both Pruitt and Hart had previously denied Hart had conducted any recent business with EPA. A spokesman for Hart has confirmed that the lobbyist met with Pruitt at EPA headquarters in July 2017 to discuss efforts to preserve the Chesapeake Bay.
“Obviously, Scott Pruitt has got some serious questions to answer,” said Thune, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate.
Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said Pruitt’s behavior has hurt Trump’s credibility and the Republican party generally.
“I don’t mean to be too harsh, but you can’t just go around acting like a big shot, and you can’t go around seeing how close you can come to the line and you can’t go around disrespecting taxpayer dollars,” Kennedy told reporters. “It shouldn’t be tolerated. That’s part of the swamp that we’re trying to clean up.”