Scandals continue to plague Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.
Kevin Chmielewski, a former deputy chief of staff for operations at the EPA is expected to testify before Congress in coming weeks about “secret” calendars used to keep meetings that might paint the job Pruitt is doing in a negative light off of his official calendar.
The alternate calendars were meant to hide meetings and calls with industry representatives and others that might appear controversial.
The story was first reported by CNN.
EPA staffers routinely met in Pruitt’s office to “scrub” Pruitt’s public calendar of records that might “look bad,” according to Chmielewski.
“We would have meetings what we were going to take off on the official schedule. We had at one point three different schedules. One of them was one that no one else saw except three or four of us,” Chmielewski said. “It was a secret … and they would decide what to nix from the public calendar.”
Chmielewski was forced to leave the EPA in February he says, after complaining about Pruitt’s spending and management.
A review by the network reportedly found discrepancies between Pruitt’s public-facing calendar and other records. According to CNN seven undisclosed meetings were held, for example, with individuals who were being considered for positions at the agency.
Pruitt has been under fire for weeks as revelations were made that a former top policy adviser to Pruitt, Samantha Davis, told Congress that Pruitt asked her to reach out to the Republican Attorneys General Association to look for jobs for his wife with annual salaries of at least $200,000. Davis reportedly refused to follow through on the request.
CNN also reported this week that Pruitt asked President Trump directly to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions with him, albeit on a temporary basis.
Pruitt’s negative publicity goes back months, as his office has been plagued by a slew of high-profile departures.
In May, it was also revealed that Pruitt had crossed White House demands and given two political staffers from his time as Oklahoma’s Attorney General large raises by exploiting an obscure EPA rule.
Pruitt’s travel habits, flying first class because of security concerns, have also received intense scrutiny.
The bad press has caused some conservatives to call for Pruitt’s resignation.
“Pruitt is the swamp. Drain it,” wrote conservative commentator Laura Ingraham on Twitter yesterday.
“I’m not going to come down here, just because he happens to be a nominee of a president I support … and try to defend the indefensible,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) told Politico last month. Pruitt should have “learned his lesson” the first time he drew scrutiny for bad behavior, he added.
President Trump has been happy with the job Pruitt has been doing tearing through regulations at the EPA however, and while reports are the President has begun to find tedious Pruitt’s repeated scandals, no change is as of yet in the works at the agency.
“I mean, we’re setting records,” the President said last month. “Outside, he’s being attacked very viciously by the press. I’m not saying that he’s blameless, but we’ll see what happens.”
“The President feels as though Scott Pruitt has done a really good job with deregulating the government, to allow for a thriving economy, that’s important to him, but these things matter to the President as well, and he’s looking into those,” said White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley yesterday. “When we have an announcement, we’ll make it.”
Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons