Watchdog Sued EPA for Pruitt’s Calendars; EPA Told Court All Calendars Had Been Released
American Oversight notified the court on July 5, 2018 that we intend to dispute the adequacy of EPA’s search for former-Administrator Pruitt’s calendars. Government attorneys representing EPA have agreed to American Oversight’s request to include search adequacy as one of the issues to be discussed as part of summary judgment briefing.
American Oversight announced today that it will file a motion in federal court asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to explain why it failed to produce Administrator Scott Pruitt’s reported secret calendars in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit brought by the group.
According to news reports, Pruitt and EPA officials maintained separate, secret calendars to deliberately conceal meetings that they wished to hide from the public. American Oversight sued the EPA last year to compel the release of all calendars for Administrator Pruitt and other senior EPA officials.
“The EPA told American Oversight and a federal court that it had produced all of Scott Pruitt’s calendars, but the revelation of this secret calendar suggests this may not have been true. American Oversight plans to ask EPA to explain itself in court, and we’ll seek discovery if necessary,” said Melanie Sloan, senior advisor to American Oversight. “EPA can’t cover up Pruitt’s calendars no matter how much they’d like to. With Scott Pruitt under at least 13 separate investigations, the EPA no longer gets the benefit of the doubt.”
On June 27, 2017, American Oversight sued the EPA to obtain calendars and phone logs for Pruitt and other senior EPA officials. American Oversight’s original FOIA request had asked for all calendars for Pruitt, not just those maintained on an official Microsoft Outlook calendar system. Specifically, the April 5, 2017 FOIA request sought:
All calendars or calendar entries for Scott Pruitt; Acting Deputy Administrator Mike Flynn; Acting Chief of Staff John Reeder; or any political or SES appointees in the Office of the Administrator, including any calendars maintained on behalf of these individuals (e.g., by an administrative assistant). For calendar entries created in Outlook or similar programs, the documents should be produced in “memo” form to include all invitees, any notes, and all attachments. Please do not limit your search to Outlook calendars—we request the production of any calendar—paper or electronic, whether on government-issued or personal devices—used to track or coordinate how these individuals allocate their time on agency business. [Emphasis added]
On September 29 and October 18, 2017, EPA released documents to American Oversight that the agency claimed were Pruitt’s complete calendars for February through May 2017.
EPA and Department of Justice attorneys assured American Oversight that the EPA had fully searched all calendars maintained by or for Pruitt and that there were no other records to be produced. In Joint Status Reports filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on April 23 and May 7, 2018, EPA affirmed that it had completed the production of the calendars requested by American Oversight.
On July 2, 2018, CNN reported that an EPA whistleblower revealed the existence of additional, secret calendars used by Pruitt and EPA staff to track meetings that they wished to hide from public release.
See American Oversight’s notice to the court below:
Part of Investigation: