The Wall Street Journal: Senators grill EPA chief Scott Pruitt over long list of allegations

WASHINGTON — Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, continued to defend himself on Wednesday against a growing list of allegations involving management missteps and spending at the agency, denying some and deflecting others in a Senate subcommittee hearing.

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., counted up 16 continuing federal reviews of Pruitt’s actions, including two at the White House. They range from issues involving travel and security costs, to personnel moves at the agency and how he obtained rental housing connected to a Washington lobbyist. Udall added his own recent request to review whether the EPA improperly used social media for political speech.

“Every day there seems to be a new scandal and you at dead center,” said Udall, the top Democrat on the subcommittee and a longtime critic of Pruitt. “I’m worried you are spending all of your time enriching yourself and your friends while betraying your mission to protect human health and the environment.”

Udall also alleged that an EPA staffer helped Pruitt look for housing in Washington and that work qualifies as a gift in violation of federal law. At the hearing, Pruitt reiterated past defenses that some of the accusations are false, and that other actions he took were justified by policy needs or cleared by ethics and security officials. He said he did get help from a staff member with house hunting, but that staff member was a longtime family friend helping on her own time, not during working hours.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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