According to newly released public records, former EPA Chief Scott Pruitt repeatedly violated agency policy by using personal emails for government business over the course of several months. In July, Pruitt resigned amid controversy over his exorbitant travel expenses and ties to industrial corporations.
On Saturday, The Guardian reported that Pruitt used personal emails while conducting government work in a possible attempt to conceal messages from public records requests. On the day of Pruitt’s resignation, someone forwarded the personal emails to Pruitt’s government account.
According to records recently made available to the Sierra Club, an environmental group, several emails from Pruitt’s personal account reveal event invitations and hiring recommendations from top Republicans, including the Michigan attorney general Bill Schuette, former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and the Federalist Society executive vice-president, Leonard Leo, who accompanied Pruitt on a government trip to Italy. Pruitt’s personal email account also received favorable invitations from conservative media pundits to appear on their shows.
Elena Saxonhouse, a senior attorney for the Sierra Club, told The Guardian that Pruitt’s email use “treads into unlawfulness if he was using personal email to evade the Federal Records Act or [Freedom of Information Act].”
She added, “The fact that his personal emails weren’t provided to us until after he left could mean that he was actively trying to hide something or that he was just as cavalier about records policy as he was about all the other rules on government accountability and ethics. Both are bad.”
Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump incessantly criticized Hillary Clinton for using a private email account and server when she had been U.S. Secretary of State. Last month, The Washington Post reported that the president’s daughter and White House advisor Ivanka Trump violated federal records rules by sending hundreds of government-related emails from her personal email account.