On our radar: Two Pruitt aides resign

Two top EPA staffers are leaving the agency amid controversy surrounding their boss, Scott Pruitt.

Posted: May 2, 2018 10:15 AM
Updated: May 2, 2018 10:26 AM

A top aide to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt directed staffers to consider opening an office in Pruitt's Oklahoma hometown -- before joining the agency's staff, according to congressional Democrats.

Citing government emails, the Democrats say the direction from Pruitt's now-chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, came more than two weeks before Pruitt was confirmed to lead the agency and paralleled improvements eventually made to Pruitt's Washington office.

EPA staffers believed the request was "coming directly from Administrator Pruitt," the lawmakers wrote in one of two letters they made public on Tuesday. The staffers sent the request to the General Services Administration, which handles leases.

"In the email, Mr. Jackson directed EPA staff to identify proposed new office space in Tulsa that included a conference room, secure parking, would be able to accommodate 24/7 security, and included a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) for secure communications," Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon and Donald Beyer of Virginia, all Democrats on the House Science Committee, wrote in the letter to Emily Murphy, the GSA administrator. They sent a similar letter to Pruitt.

After taking office, Pruitt began receiving around-the-clock protection from an EPA security team, and a closet in his office at EPA headquarters was converted into a soundproof booth. Pruitt testified at congressional hearings that he uses the $43,000 booth for secure communications.

In response to CNN's request for comment, the EPA said it has a small Tulsa satellite office but that Pruitt has never used it.

"Since 2012, there is an EPA office in Tulsa for two EPA employees when they need to work remotely. This location is not practical or usable for Administrator Pruitt's business and he has never used this office," EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in a statement.

Wilcox did not mention the Jackson email.

The members of Congress did not specify how they came to review the emails, and they did not release them publicly. But they did say Jackson sent the request on January 31, 2017, from his Senate email account. Before joining the EPA, Jackson was a Republican staffer for a Senate committee.

Pruitt's frequent travel to Oklahoma at taxpayer expense was his first move that draw attention from government watchdogs. Agency calendars show that Pruitt repeatedly scheduled meetings or facility tours in Oklahoma, and would then spend the weekend at his home there.

The EPA inspector general opened an audit of his Tulsa travel that eventually expanded into all of his 2017 travel, including expensive trips to Morocco and Italy.

Pruitt has since drawn scrutiny for several other controversial decisions, including the 24/7 security detail, a below-market-rate lease from an energy industry lobbyist and massive raises given to close aides, one of whom he described as a friend.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 676505

Reported Deaths: 8049
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1396591852
Ramsey58216942
Dakota51771493
Anoka47702478
Washington30460309
Stearns24688240
St. Louis20106335
Scott19489144
Wright18332163
Olmsted15650110
Sherburne13375100
Carver1198951
Clay905895
Rice9047119
Blue Earth857947
Crow Wing7723101
Kandiyohi740988
Chisago706157
Otter Tail660990
Benton638799
Mower551838
Winona549552
Goodhue546180
Douglas530084
Itasca512870
Beltrami496972
Steele496321
McLeod495262
Isanti487170
Morrison463862
Nobles445450
Polk428275
Becker427459
Freeborn426438
Lyon390654
Carlton387259
Nicollet371947
Pine371526
Mille Lacs351760
Brown343543
Cass340335
Le Sueur337929
Todd318334
Meeker301749
Waseca286025
Martin259033
Wabasha23984
Dodge23833
Roseau229723
Hubbard226841
Houston201616
Renville198247
Redwood195641
Fillmore190710
Pennington188421
Wadena182723
Faribault177625
Cottonwood175824
Sibley173910
Chippewa169839
Kanabec163529
Watonwan153911
Aitkin153838
Rock137919
Jackson134112
Pope12858
Pipestone124126
Yellow Medicine123820
Swift116419
Murray114810
Koochiching113019
Stevens104611
Marshall100918
Clearwater100218
Lake90721
Wilkin89014
Lac qui Parle84624
Big Stone6724
Grant6628
Mahnomen6629
Lincoln6424
Norman6319
Kittson53122
Unassigned53093
Red Lake4667
Traverse4205
Lake of the Woods3814
Cook2060

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 426400

Reported Deaths: 6339
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk67341672
Linn25698353
Scott22828261
Black Hawk19121334
Woodbury16940233
Johnson1659690
Dubuque14547218
Pottawattamie13058183
Dallas12746102
Story1187148
Warren685993
Webster6304102
Cerro Gordo6212102
Clinton620097
Des Moines594482
Muscatine5781108
Marshall564280
Sioux542775
Jasper516575
Lee511078
Wapello4993128
Buena Vista472942
Marion449083
Plymouth434083
Henry339940
Jones331158
Bremer325365
Crawford321644
Carroll317053
Washington315754
Benton312656
Boone308736
Mahaska275453
Dickinson270846
Kossuth251471
Jackson246044
Clay245729
Tama238273
Delaware234643
Buchanan233938
Hardin230847
Page221624
Cedar220525
Fayette220345
Wright217641
Winneshiek215937
Hamilton211752
Harrison198875
Clayton194458
Madison193820
Butler188836
Floyd187742
Mills185224
Poweshiek181036
Cherokee179440
Iowa176425
Allamakee176252
Lyon174441
Jefferson169138
Calhoun168313
Hancock167335
Winnebago164231
Grundy158835
Cass155556
Louisa154949
Shelby151739
Appanoose151249
Emmet149541
Franklin148524
Humboldt147226
Sac144722
Union144237
Mitchell141643
Guthrie138132
Chickasaw137518
Palo Alto131124
Clarke125024
Montgomery122239
Keokuk116232
Howard115622
Monroe114033
Ida107538
Davis103125
Pocahontas99023
Greene98012
Adair95334
Monona94733
Lucas94523
Worth9268
Osceola83717
Decatur74510
Fremont74111
Taylor72412
Van Buren70919
Wayne65123
Ringgold62226
Audubon58414
Adams3914
Unassigned190
Rochester
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 73°
Mason City
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 76°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 75°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 73°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 73°
A windy Thursday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Sean's Weather 9/16

Image

Kid vaccine update

Image

Redistricting changes in Minnesota

Image

Rochester riverfront

Image

"Legends" building recommended for landmark status despite advice of experts, staff

Image

Southeastern Minnesota town experiences business boom

Image

Aaron's Wednesday Night Weather (9/15/21)

Image

Landmark status recommended for former Legends site

Image

20 new businesses open in Lanesboro

Image

Riverland Community College celebrates Welcoming America Week

Community Events