Even before his Senate confirmation, former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt mulled running the EPA at least part-time from his hometown of Tulsa, seeking office space there, emails show.
Pruitt ultimately dropped that plan, the EPA told members of Congress in a letter dated June 19.
“Although the EPA staff did explore whether office space was available in Tulsa, this possibility was ultimately abandoned,” Troy Lyons, associate EPA administrator, said in a letter to members of the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
House Democrats were unsurprisingly not keen on this idea:
“Establishing a new EPA office in Tulsa may be personally convenient for you, but it seems ethically questionable, professionally unnecessary, and financially unjustified,” House Democrats wrote in a letter to Pruitt in May.
And the agency itself, it appears, had some qualms:
“‘gifted’ or ‘donated’ space could be an optics issue. We can investigate other Federal agencies with office space in Tulsa, or even Congressional space in Tulsa, such as Sen. Inhofe’s district office, but I didn’t want to wave that flag yet. Again, optics. But let me know,” [an] EPA staffer wrote.
Another issue was that the EPA did not want the cost of the new office space to show up as a line item in a congressional bill.
Now there’s the bureaucracy we know and love.
Actually, I like the idea of decentralizing the government generally, but I concede that it would complicate Congressional oversight, in the event that Congress actually wants to oversee anything.