Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt reportedly drew up a list of his preferred travel destinations when he joined the agency and instructed his staff to come up with “official” reasons to justify trips to those locations, according to The Washington Post.
Four EPA officials familiar with Pruitt’s travel arrangements told the newspaper that Pruitt directed aides to plan visits to countries on the list while finding official EPA business to rationalize the travel.
“Find me something to do,” Pruitt would reportedly tell his staffers when he wanted to travel to particular destinations.
Business Insider reports:
Kevin Chmielewski, Trump’s “body man” on the 2016 campaign trail who formerly served as Pruitt’s deputy chief of staff at the EPA, met with congressional investigators this week, and his allegations are detailed in a six-page letter signed by five Democratic lawmakers.
Chmielewski, who was reportedly fired from his post after objecting to some of his boss’s requests, said that Pruitt made frequent trips back to Oklahoma, where he owns a home and would spend weekends, using taxpayer funds.
On a trip to Italy, Pruitt “refused to stay at hotels recommended by the U.S. Embassy, although the recommended hotel had law enforcement and other U.S. resources on site,” Chmielewski alleged, according to the letter. The EPA administrator opted for more expensive lodging that did not have as much security, while using taxpayer dollars to bring his personal security team on the trip.
Sens. Thomas Carper and Sheldon Whitehouse and Reps. Elijah Cummings, Gerald Connolly, and Donald Beyer Jr., sent a letter addressed to Pruitt requesting a lengthy list of documents concerning Pruitt’s activities.
Pruitt’s chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, allegedly told Chmielewski that he would be fired or reassigned after he refused to approve first-class travel for one of Pruitt’s aides on a trip to Morocco.
“The new information provided by Mr. Chmielewski, if accurate, leaves us certain that your leadership at E.P.A. has been fraught with numerous and repeated unethical and potentially illegal actions on a wide range of consequential matters,” the lawmakers wrote.
“This is the problem with Pruitt,” Virginia Canter of the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington told the Post. “He’s basically acting as a lobbyist for all of his friends.”