EPA Removed Scott Pruitt’s Controversial Meetings From Its Public Records, Says Whistleblower
Former EPA official Kevin Chmielewski has revealed that the organization keeps a secret calendar, which was systematically scrubbed by officials to hide controversial meetings from the public.
Under the direction of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, he and his small team of aides met to discuss which parts of the official calendar would be omitted before it was released to the public. As deputy chief of staff for operations, Chmielewski was one of the few privy to these secret meetings.
“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 told CNN. “It was a secret … and they would decide what to nix from the public calendar.”
According to Chmielewski, hidden information included controversial meetings with energy industry officials, lawyers, Washington insiders, and those facing sexual harassment allegations. A CNN review later corroborated the claim, discovering multiple discrepancies between the EPA’s public calendar and its internal schedule and emails. Over 24 meetings, events or calls were missing from Pruitt’s public calendar.
One discrepancy involved the EPA Administrator’s $120,000 trip to Italy, funded on the taxpayer’s dollars. There, he met with top Vatican official and known climate change opponent, Cardinal George Pell. Upon returning to the U.S, breaking reports of Pell’s sexual assault charges prompted EPA officials to omit the cardinal’s name from the public calendar, even though “Cardinal Pell was basically our host,” said Chmielewski.
Other omitted information included Pruitt’s meetings with White House officials like Kellyanne Conway, as well as top industry representatives like Joseph Craft, CEO of major coal producer Alliance Resource Partners. Craft has previously advocated for the EPA to roll back numerous coal-industry regulations instituted under the Obama administration.
Pruitt could now face up to 14 federal probes for his actions.
“If somebody changed, deleted, scrubbed a federal record with the intent of deceiving the public or intent of deceiving anybody, it could very well be a violation of federal law,” said Larry Noble, a former general counsel at the Federal Election Commission.
Chmielewski is expected to testify before Congress in the case.