Common Cause, Allies Press Pruitt for Legal Fund Details
Common Cause is among 29 government watchdog and environmental groups that urged embattled Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt on Thursday to publicly release details of the activities of a legal defense fund created to help him battle multiple ethics investigations.
In an open letter to Pruitt, the groups pressed the EPA chief to reply to a request for information about the fund made last month by four U.S. senators.
“If a legal defense fund is not carefully set up and administered, there are many ways the fund may run afoul of executive branch ethics rules,” the groups wrote. “Given the large number of ethics scandals now under investigation at the EPA, further scandals should be avoided by you and the agency.”
The letter adds that “the Office of Government Ethics (OGE)… has provided only informal advice on how such funds should be managed. That leaves a great deal of discretion to the executors of these funds, and highlights why it is so important that you provide Congress, the EPA Designated Agency Ethics Official (DAEO) and the public, information and documentation as to the structure and conduct of your legal defense fund.”
Pruitt’s spending on official travel, personal security, furnishings for his office, and raises for some of his top aides – among other items – is the subject of at least 10 investigations by an assortment of congressional and executive branch agencies.
Most recently, the online news site The Intercept reported this week that Pruitt’s office has spent more than $4.6 million on security during his roughly 18 months in office. The total includes $1,500 for “tactical pants” and more than $88,000 for secure radios and accessories including holsters and travel chargers.