Wednesday, Alaska's senior senator questioned the administrator of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, and voiced some concerns regarding the agency and how it was being handled under his leadership. The EPA chief said his attorney is working with the Government Accountability Office to make sure the fund is established appropriately. Asked Friday if he still had confidence in Pruitt, Trump told reporters, "I do".
Pruitt, whose tenure with the agency has been plagued by scandals like rampant spending, dodged questions from senators on topics from unapproved raises for staffers to his unprecedented (and expensive) security detail.
"I'm announcing this morning that I just requested a new GAO investigation, this one to determine if EPA violated the appropriations law banning taxpayer spending on publicity and propaganda by engaging in political speech via social media", Udall said.
"You've brought true common sense policy to the agency", she said.
Hupp house-hunting for Pruitt during work hours "would be a violation of federal rules as well as a misuse of taxpayer dollars", Udall said.
Pruitt, who did not refer to Hupp by name but called her "a longtime friend, " said that when it came to her assistance, "it's my understanding that all activity there was on personal time".
Udall then disclosed an internal email from then-EPA special agent Pasquale "Nino" Perrotta indicating Pruitt wanted the sirens used.
Such decisions had made Pruitt and the EPA "a laughingstock, " he added.
"Btw - Administrator encourages the use ..." Perrotta also wrote the agency's justification for Pruitt's first-class travel. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), said that while she recognized that Pruitt had made tangible progress on some issues championed by the GOP, she was also concerned those accomplishments "are being overshadowed because of a series of issues related to you and your management of the agency". "I'm anxious you are spending all of your time enriching yourself and your friends while betraying your mission to protect human health and the environment". He blamed staff and processes for allowing some of incidents to take place.
"EPA's Protective Service Detail handles security decisions and this particular decision was made before Administrator Pruitt arrived at EPA", Wilcox said. This included a $43,000 soundproof phone booth.
But he also acknowledged that he would have done some things differently during his 16 months at the agency so far.
President Donald Trump supports his agency chief but several members of Congress do not.
Pruitt met with a law firm representing the Orange County Water District that employs Hewitt last October, according to internal emails obtained by Politico earlier this month. "The Democrats couldn't block the confirmation of environmental policy expert and former EPA staffer under both a Republican and a Democrat president". Patrick Leahy blasted Scott Pruitt for traveling first class for security reasons, saying 'nobody even knows who you are'.
The West Virginia Republican also asked Pruitt about a toxicology study on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, that is reportedly being held up by EPA.