U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt will testify in front of a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday about his agency's budget, exposing him to fresh questions about his travel and security spending.
That detail appears at odds with past claims that the stepped-up security measures came in direct response to death threats.
Inspector General Arthur Elkins says his office will review the matter despite budget and staff constraints.
Ethics watchdogs and federal investigators are conducting at least a dozen inquiries into Pruitt's reliance on first-class air travel, expensive trips overseas, use of emergency lights and sirens to cut traffic in Washington, D.C., round-the-clock security protection, trips to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl, unapproved raises to top staff, the purchase of a soundproof phone booth, and a sweetheart condo deal on Capitol Hill that was arranged by an energy lobbyist, among other things.More news: Police Officer Shoots Suspect Who Opened Fire At Dixon High School
In testimony before two House subcommittees last month, Pruitt sought to put the blame for any missteps on his subordinates, saying that his security team decided he should fly in first class and that his chief of staff approved the questionable raises. It's three times the size of his predecessor's part-time security contingent. "Nobody even knew who you were ..."
"Unfortunately, I am concerned that numerous important policy efforts you are engaged in are being overshadowed because of issues related to you and your management of agency", she said.
Separately, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is scheduled to interview EPA Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum on Wednesday morning about efforts to ease air pollution permitting for power plants and industrial facilities. The seemingly unending stream of negative reports about Pruitt's behavior drew the ire of some GOP senators and even staff at the White House.
Udall, describing Pruitt's management of the agency as "disastrous", again called on Pruitt to resign.More news: Flood watch in effect; here's how much rain we could get
And the subcommittee's top Democrat, New Mexico's Tom Udall, is accusing Pruitt of failing to inform lawmakers about a $43,000 soundproof booth for making private phone calls from his office.
Pruitt said that "to the best of my knowledge", the agency followed the policies in place. Thomas R. Carper (Del.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), in which then-EPA special agent Pasquale "Nino" Perrotta informed colleagues that the "Administrator encourages the use" of lights and sirens.
"You personally requested that the sirens and the flashing lights occur, is that right?"
Pruitt was also criticized for a tweet on April 13 by the EPA's official account that cheered Senate approval of former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as deputy administrator of the EPA and stated that "the Democrats couldn't block the confirmation". In an email replying to questions about her role, Mitchell wrote, "Scott has been a friend and client for a long time so I would not be in a position to speak to you about him or any work I have or might or might not do for him".More news: AWS Now Verizon's 'Preferred Cloud Provider'
The study would show that the chemicals - known as PFOA and PFOS - are unsafe to humans in much smaller quantities than the Environmental Protection Agency has previously said, Politico reported this week.