Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The probe was launched in response to a formal ethics complaint filed by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and University of Oklahoma law professor Kristen van de Biezenbos. (Photo: Lorrie Shaull/flickr/cc)

Oklahoma Bar Launches Investigation to Determine If Trump's EPA Chief Lied Under Oath

EPA chief told Congress he only conducted official attorney general business on professional email account, but document dump showed otherwise

Nadia Prupis

The Oklahoma Bar Association on Thursday opened an investigation into whether Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt lied to Congress under oath.

Pruitt has been asked to respond to the inquiry, which will look into possible ethics violations stemming from his confirmation hearing in January, when he testified that he only ever used his professional email account to conduct official business while serving as Oklahoma attorney general.

Following the investigation, the association's Professional Responsibility Commission will determine whether to take disciplinary action against Pruitt.

The probe was launched in response to a formal ethics complaint (pdf) filed by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and University of Oklahoma law professor Kristen van de Biezenbos.

Pruitt's testimony was proven false after a lawsuit filed in February by the watchdog group Center for Media and Democracy forced the release of thousands of pages of his emails, which showed that he had used his personal account to carry out official communications multiple times.

"I'm very pleased the Oklahoma Bar Association has agreed to investigate this matter," said CBD senior attorney Amy Atwood. "Lying to Congress is a serious ethical breach, and it doesn't help that Pruitt's use of private emails reflect potential collusion with the very oil and gas industry he's now supposed to be regulating."

Indeed, the emails exposed a cozy relationship between Pruitt and the fossil fuel industry, including private communications with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the corporate-funded conservative lobbying group, and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM).

One message from the AFPM asked Pruitt to use his position as attorney general to roll back renewable fuel standards that were set by the Obama administration.

Federal rules prohibit the use of private emails for official business because it exposes offices to hacking and can lead to the loss of government records.

"As a law professor and a member of the legal profession, I take the ethical standards very seriously," said van de Biezenbos. "But such rules are only meaningful when they are fully enforced."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'What Happens When You Warm a Planet': Massive Flooding Kills At Least 8 in Seoul

"Two months' worth of rain in half a day. We are in a climate emergency," wrote meteorologist Eric Holthaus.

Jake Johnson ·

Trump Says Mar-a-Lago 'Under Siege, Raided, and Occupied' by FBI

"The accountability our democracy desperately needs for its survival might, just might, be a real possibility," said the head of a watchdog group.

Common Dreams staff ·

New Ad Against Herschel Walker Features Ex-Wife's Domestic Violence Accusations

A leader at the anti-Trump group behind the advertisement targeting the U.S. Senate candidate said that "our campaign is built around the voices of Georgia Republicans who know that he's unfit for office."

Jessica Corbett ·

Michigan AG Urges Probe of Alleged GOP-Led Effort to Break Into Voting Machines

"We must denounce the Big Lie and those who refuse to uphold the will of the people in our elections," said one democracy defender.

Brett Wilkins ·

Hopes Rise for Return to Iran Nuclear Deal Destroyed by Trump

"We stand five minutes or five seconds from the finish line," said one negotiator, who added that "three or four issues" that are "sensitive for Iranians and Americans" remain to be resolved.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo