Mr. Pruitt acknowledged that Ms. Hupp had carried out the search on his behalf and had not been paid however famous that she was a longtime household buddy.
“It doesn’t cut it that they’re a friend,” Senator Udall stated. “Did you pay them at the time?”
“No, I did not,” Mr. Pruitt responded.
“Then it’s a gift,” Senator Udall stated. “It’s a violation of federal law.”
Officials are prohibited by regulation from accepting presents from their subordinates that exceed $10.
Mr. Pruitt promised to supply copies of all emails and paperwork from himself and Ms. Hupp associated to the housing search.
Republicans, as they have in previous hearings with Mr. Pruitt, typically gave the administrator a straightforward trip. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the chairwoman of the subcommittee, initially rebuked the E.P.A. chief.
“I’m being asked, really constantly asked, to comment on housing and security and travel,” she stated. “Instead of seeing articles about efforts to return your agency to its core mission, I’m reading articles about your interactions with the industries that you regulate.”
But Senator Murkowski didn’t press Mr. Pruitt in regards to the allegations. Instead, she requested him, “Do you have anything you would like to add in response?” The transfer mirrored these of Republicans in earlier hearings with Mr. Pruitt: citing concern about allegations of misconduct however then permitting the administrator to concern an open-ended and unchallenged protection.
In response Mr. Pruitt denied, as he has earlier than, that he was accountable.
“I would not make the same decisions again,” he stated, with out detailing which of them. But, he stated, in some instances the E.P.A. was not organized in a option to stop spending abuses. He particularly cited his workplace’s set up of a safe cellphone sales space, saying, “There were not proper controls early to ensure a legal review.”
The set up of the cellphone each, at a value of $43,000, was later discovered to have violated federal regulation.
Mr. Pruitt stated he had launched a brand new course of after the episode to make sure that any expenditure over $5,000 could be authorized by the E.P.A. chief of workers and chief monetary officer.
Senator Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, requested Mr. Pruitt about a New York Times report that the administrator had set up a legal defense fund to to defray the prices associated to the investigations into his conduct. Mr. Pruitt confirmed that the fund had been established, and Senator Van Hollen requested Mr. Pruitt to pledge that every one donations to the fund could be made public, and that he wouldn’t settle for donations from lobbyists or firms which have enterprise earlier than the E.P.A.
“Absolutely,” Mr. Pruitt stated.
Democrats additionally pressed Mr. Pruitt on a report by the E.P.A.’s inspector basic that said he had requested 24-hour safety from his first day in workplace, a expensive service not prolonged to any of his predecessors. “Did you personally, on your first day, ask for 24-7 protection for yourself?” Senator Udall requested.
“Personally, on the first day, the 24-7 had been determined by the criminal enforcement office to provide,” Mr. Pruitt stated. “I did not direct that on the first day.”
“So your answer is no,” Senator Udall stated.
“My answer is I did not direct that on the first day,” Mr. Pruitt responded.
“Well all the documents dispute that,” Senator Udall stated.
Senator Udall additionally requested Mr. Pruitt if he had ever requested using lights and sirens on his E.P.A.-issued vehicle when he traveled for private causes. Several E.P.A. aides have stated that Mr. Pruitt wished to make use of lights and sirens to expedite journeys to airports and dinner, together with no less than one journey to Le Diplomate, a Washington restaurant.
Mr. Pruitt stated, “I don’t recall that happening.”
Senator Udall then entered into the document an e-mail from Mr. Pruitt’s former head of safety, Pasquale Perrotta, saying that the administrator had inspired using lights.