EPA administrator lied about private email use in Senate testimony

Thousands of emails Scott Pruitt sent to oil and gas companies still haven’t been disclosed.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on Tuesday. CREDIT: AP Photo/Susan Walsh
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on Tuesday. CREDIT: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

An investigation by Fox 25 in Oklahoma has confirmed that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt used a private email account to conduct official business while he was the state’s attorney general, directly contradicting what he told the Senate during his confirmation hearing.

During his hearing, Pruitt was asked by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), “Have you ever conducted business using your personal email accounts, nonofficial Oklahoma Attorney General email accounts, text messages, instant messenger, voicemails, or any other medium?”

Pruitt responded, “I use only my official OAG [Office of the Attorney General] email address and government issued phone to conduct official business.”

But the Oklahoma attorney general’s office confirmed to Fox 25 that Pruitt used private email for state business after an Open Records Request revealed documents where certain email addresses for Pruitt, not his official government account, were blacked out on official correspondence.

It’s not illegal for the Oklahoma attorney general to use private email accounts for government business, but those emails must be included in any records requests. Lying to the Senate under oath about the emails amounts to perjury. And it is illegal to use private email for official federal government business.

Pruitt was confirmed to lead the EPA despite the fact that the Center for Media and Democracy has been seeking the release of more than 2,500 pieces of email correspondence between him or his staff and oil and gas companies while attorney general. The attorney general’s office has appealed a ruling that ordered it turn over the records that have already been withheld for more than two years.

Pruitt is not the only member of Trump’s cabinet to have been caught lying in Senate testimony. Betsy DeVos, who has been confirmed to lead the Education Department, told the Senate that she didn’t sit on the board of her mother’s foundation when it made donations to the anti-gay groups Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, despite legal forms that list her on the board during that period. Steven Mnuchin, who has been confirmed as Treasury Secretary, told the Senate that the bank he previously ran never “robo-signed,” or illegally signed documents without the proper review, despite reams of court documents that say it did.