Another Problem for Pruitt: Deadline in Tar Creek Audit Suit

By: Peter Hayes, Bloomberg BNA, June 15, 2018

The EPA faces a June 19 deadline to tell a federal court if it will release information about Administrator Scott Pruitt’s refusal to release the results of audits finding potentially criminal conduct in the operation of a hazardous waste fund.

The Freedom of Information Act suit stems from the 2013 and 2014 audits of the Lead-Impacted Communities Relocation Assistance Trust, a fund set up to relocate residents who lived on contaminated properties near the Tar Creek Superfund site in Ottawa County, Okla. Pruitt was Oklahoma attorney general at the time.

Campaign for Accountability, a public watchdog organization based in Washington, wants the Environmental Protection Agency to provide relevant documents related to Pruitt’s failure to release the audits publicly. The refusal was widely criticized at the time, including by the auditor himself.

The group also wants to know why the agency’s Office of Inspector General issued a January 2013 memo finding “no evidence to support any allegations” of fund improprieties before the state auditor’s investigation had been completed.

“We’d like to know why an employee at OIG was so intent on finding no wrongdoing,” Dan Stevens, the watchdog’s executive director, told Bloomberg Law June 14.

“We’d also like to know Pruitt’s role in trying to stop the audits from going out,” including whether, after becoming EPA administrator, Pruitt pressured his replacement as Oklahoma AG to continue to keep the audits private, Stevens said.

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