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E.P.A. Emails show an effort to keep Pruitt out of public scrutiny



In another case, what was planned as a town hall discussion for farmers in Iowa, E.P.A. Emails show that the main concern of Mr. Pruitt's top employees was to control who could actually ask him questions. Ultimately, the agency wrote questions to Pruitt, which he should answer from the stage.

"The security aspect is smoke and mirrors," said Kevin Chmielewski, Pruitt's former deputy chief of staff for operations, who is one of several former EPA officials who said they were fired or because they interfere with Mr.'s management practice Pruitt did not agree. "He did not want anyone to question anything," Mr. Chmielewski said, adding that Mr. Pruitt "just does not understand what it's like to be a public figure."

Mr. Pruitt testified at the congress last month that Mr. Chmielewski had resigned.

Three other current and former officials of the agency who had asked not to be identified because they still work for the government expressed similar views.

The E.P.A. does not respond to requests for comments on the documents describing Mr. Pruitt's travel and performance plans nationwide. In the past E.P.A. Officials have said that Mr. Pruitt has been exposed to an unprecedented number of death threats that explain the size of his security forces and the government's refusal to publish his daily schedule.

All politicians, of course, are focused on building images and employ people whose job it is to control the environments in which they occur. However, Mr Pruitt has brought the practice to an extreme.

Break with all its predecessors at E.P.A. For the past 25 years, as well as other members of President Trump's cabinet, he does not publish a list of public speeches and reveals most official journeys only after they have come to an end. Mr. Pruitt does not conduct press conferences, and in one episode, journalists who learned about an event were referred to an E.P.A. Officials threatened to call the police

E.P.A. Also declined to publicly disclose Mr. Pruitt's detailed calendar until the agency was sued by the New York Times and other organizations

Photo



Mr. Pruitt with miners in Sycamore, Pennsylvania, in April. His office usually does not make his speech public until they are finished. Credit
Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press

Recently, the agency has requested that all documents related to Mr Pruitt collected as a result of requests for information be made available to its political aides 48 hours in advance. Awareness Review "before being published to ensure that the leadership is known to the public," said an e-mail in June.

Mr. Pruitt is currently facing eleven investigations into his spending and management at E.P.A, many of which stem from the desire for secrecy. It is being studied at the expense of taxpayers for world-class travel, sophisticated security details, and the installation of a telephone privacy soundbox for $ 43,000.

Regardless, a New York Times 2003 investigation found that He served as lawmaker in Oklahoma; Mr. Pruitt bought a house in a transaction involving two lobbyists with business outside the state, and veiled the purchase with help a shell company.

The emails document Mr. Pruit's top adviser blocking the public from his performances.

For example, in Nevada, Iowa, organizers of an event celebrating Mr. Pruitt's plans to lift an Obama-era water regime that many ranchers dislike, the EPA has informed that they have already announced the event as open had. "This was sold as a Town Hall meeting" – meaning that anyone could ask questions – wrote Bill Couser, an Iowa rancher who helped organize the December event, in an e-mail to E.P.A.

In Washington, E.P.A.

"With a crowd of 300 plus open media, we have to stay with the questions we have right now," Millan Hupp, Pruitt's scheduler, said. "I sincerely apologize for causing trouble, but we can not make an open Q & A from the crowd."

The agency prevailed. Mr Pruitt answered questions from Mr Couser, who was contacted by E.P.A. Officials, according to the emails and a video recording of the event.

Efforts such as these to prevent reporters from attending events were not part of the game book for past E.P.A. According to spokeswoman Christine Todd Whitman, who served in the George W. Bush administration, as well as Lisa Jackson and Gina McCarthy, who served under President Barack Obama. "They have not selectively informed the press or taken any steps to keep things a secret," said Heather Grizzle, a spokeswoman for Ms. Whitman,

Mr. Pruitt is different. The e-mails show that agency representatives define potential guests as friendly or unfriendly at events and reorganize the events at the last minute, when it is feared that people who are considered rude will show up.

"Sixteen befriended industry leaders are invited At 8:30 am, the administrator is expected to arrive at 9:00 am," officials said in a memo shared by the EPA last September, ahead of a visit Mr. Pruitt of Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he was to speak with the National Association of Homebuilders. The event was closed to the public and not publicly announced.

Gerald M. Howard, the organization's top manager, will "moderate questions and answers on industry issues in advance and possibly by the audience – who are all industry friendly and have support from Mr. Pruitt and his efforts," said the Description.

In another case, after a Missouri News Agency discovered and tweeted, Mr. Pruitt planned to speak with about 150 representatives of electricity cooperatives and power plant owners last April, EPA employees went into damage control mode.

The meeting was not publicly announced. Tate Bennett – who is the EPA associate administrator for environmental education – asked Barry Hart from the Missouri Electricity Cooperatives Association if the Missouri Network Television news agency was "the friendly outlet."

Photo [19659029] Mr. Pruitt visited an almond grove in California in March. E-mails show that E.P.A. Officials try to divide potential guests into two camps at public events: "friendly" and "rude". Credit
Environmental Protection Agency

Mr. Hart replied, "That's it, but since it's a public tweet, one has to assume that the world now knows all the news media … even rude."

Shaun Kober, founder of Missouri Network Television, said, "We're just trying to distribute the facts."

A public relations consultant for the Association of Missouri Electrical Cooperatives had already developed a strategy in consultation with the EPA negative comments in social media.

"Our plan will be," Gus Wagner, "a public relations manager working with organizers, wrote in an e-mail to the EPA" Comments that are positive are liked and possibly shared, "wrote he. "Comments that are pejorative and / or abusive will remain hidden from the public. Commenter receives no notification that this hiding has taken place.

Sometimes EPA's approach to public relations – announcing the announcement after the events ended – confused its hosts, including Stephen Ciccone, Vice President of Government Affairs, Toyota Motor North America, who visited Mr Pruitt organized in his Texas car factory.

"I thought you all did not want any press coverage?" Mr. Ciccone wrote, unsure why the EPA would even publish a press release.

An e-mail from E.P.A. explained the plan. The Agency welcomed the report as long as it met the conditions of the agency.

A release would be made "highlighting all the attacks that Administrator Pruitt makes during his visit to Texas," said the e-mail. As planned, government photos of a smiling Mr. Pruitt and Toyota executives were posted on the EPO's website shortly after the event ended, describing it as an "action tour."

The effort to control the event almost fell apart when a journalist caught wind of the journey.

"We have just received a request from a CBS News reporter in Dallas about the visit," Mr. Ciccone wrote to the EPA on the day of the event. "We will not answer until the visit is over."

In another case that was previously unpublished, Mr. Pruitt assisted one of his longtime backers last June, Richard Smotkin, who was a Comcast lobbyist at the time, and later helped organize Pruitt's controversial trip to Morocco. (One month after this trip in December, Mr. Smotkin became a foreign agent worth $ 40,000 a month promoting Morocco's interests overseas.)

Mr. Smotkin's request in June raised ethical issues within the EPA: He had invited Mr. Pruitt to make a charity call for a nonprofit group that supports Mr. Smotkin, the American Council of Young Political Leaders who offers currency exchange programs for aspiring politicians. At this event, Mr. Pruitt received an award in the form of a globe engraved with his name.

"The ethics department asks me these questions about the event," wrote Sydney Hupp, a scheduler for Mr. Pruitt, the sister of Millan Hupp, the scheduler. (Both are former Pruitt campaign workers.) The questions had to do with the appropriateness of receiving a prize in a fundraiser.

After a series of e-mails, Millan Hupp wrote to the Nonprofit Group staff with one solution: Do not refer to Mr. Pruit's job during the presentation.

"Yes, the administrator is allowed to attend the event, and yes, he is allowed to receive the globe, but please make sure that they call him the Honorable (as opposed to the EPO administrator)," wrote Mrs. Hupp. It was confirmed by ethics. "

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