Whistleblower says Pruitt kept secret calendar to hide meetings with industry reps
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt and his aides maintained “secret” calendars in order to prevent controversial meetings or calls with industry representatives getting out publicly, according to a CNN report.
The news outlet reported on Monday that the findings were revealed by a former EPA official who is scheduled to testify before Congress soon.
The report says that EPA staffers consistently met in Pruitt’s office to go through a process in which they would either remove or alter records from the EPA chief’s calendar. Kevin Chmielewski, Pruitt’s former deputy chief of staff for operations, reportedly said the reasoning for this was because the meetings could “look bad.”
The scrubbing led to a noticeable difference between Pruitt’s public calendar and what internal EPA schedules and emails show. CNN notes that more than two dozen meetings, events or calls were removed from his public calendar.
Chmielewski, who said he was forced to leave the agency in February because he questioned its spending and management, said some meetings were purposefully omitted from Pruitt’s calendar after they happened. For example, Pruitt’s meeting with Cardinal George Pell, who faces multiple historical charges of sexual offenses, was removed from the calendar.
“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.”
CNN noted that if the allegations are true, the EPA’s practice of removing or altering public calendars could violate federal law.