April 15 (UPI) — Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are expanding their investigation into alleged ethical and spending abuses by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.
House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy on Friday sent a letter requesting more information from Pruitt, accused of excessive spending on travel, vehicles, staff raises and over-the-top security features such as a $43,000 soundproof phone booth.
The committee asked for documents about Pruitt’s security detail and its lead member, Pasquale Perrotta. Also being sought is information about the lease for a bedroom in a Capitol Hill condominium that Pruitt rented last year.
Gowdy’s letter was sent one day after lawmakers heard details from the EPA’s former deputy chief of staff for operations, Kevin Chmielewski, who said those who questioned Pruitt’s unethical behavior were retaliated against.
Chmielewski said Pruitt insisted on staying at expensive hotels while traveling even if they exceeded allowable federal spending limits and told staff to book him on Delta Air Lines so he could accrue frequent flier miles.
The committee also is asking to meet with Chmielewski and Perrotta; Ryan Jackson, Pruitt’s chief of staff; Millan Hupp, an aide; and Sarah Greenwalt, senior counsel to Pruitt.
Jahan Wilcox, EPA spokesman, said the agency had “responded to Chairman Gowdy’s inquiries and we will continue to work with him.”
Last month, Pruitt was scrutinized after travel documents released showed the EPA spent close to $90,000 to send him and his staff to Italy for one day for the G7 environmental summit. Included in that amount was a $36,000 military flight so Pruitt could join President Donald Trump at a Cincinnati event, then make it to New York in time for his flight to Rome.