The Environmental Protection Agency chief’s transparency problem is well-documented. For months, he refused to release his schedule, keeping the public in the dark about his whereabouts and activities. When his schedule was finally released, it revealed his meetings with chemical and fossil fuel companies that he’s in charge of regulating. For the most part, he only gives media access to friendly outlets; he’s granted more interviews to Fox News than all other major networks combined. He spent nearly $25,000 on a soundproof “privacy booth” for his office. The EPA’s Office of Inspector General has also launched a “preliminary investigation” into Pruitt over his frequent travel to Oklahoma “at taxpayer expense.”
But the sunlight shined on Pruitt’s secretive behavior has not chastened him, apparently. On Thursday, Politico reported that despite promising to release his public schedule in September, Pruitt has not been regularly providing them. On Wednesday, he hopped on a first class on a flight to Detroit and refused to tell reporters why. For a cabinet official, that is unprecedented, as Politico’s team noted:
That’s not how this works. Pruitt is a Cabinet official, not a private citizen. His responsibilities include testifying before Congress regularly, and the public has a right to know where he is on a given day. Unlike Pruitt, other Cabinet officials — including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (even President Donald Trump himself) — regularly provide their daily schedules in advance.
As for testifying before Congress, Pruitt reportedly has been avoiding that, too. John Shimkus, the Republican chair of the House Energy and Commerce Environment Subcommittee, “personally told Pruitt within the past two weeks that he needs to appear before the committee,” Politico reports. Pruitt, according to Shimkus, “was quiet.”