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Investigative Journalist Sues EPA for Information About Administrator Pruitt’s Trip to the Rose Bowl

March 22, 2018

Investigative Journalist Sues EPA for Information About Administrator Pruitt’s Trip to the Rose Bowl

FOIA Request Sought Records Concerning Pruitt’s Attendance at College Football Game

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must produce records in response to a public information request regarding EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s travel on New Year’s Day to the Rose Bowl college football game, said a lawsuit filed today by investigative journalist and co-director of Documented, Nick Surgey, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Public Citizen Litigation Group represents Surgey in the lawsuit.

On Jan. 8, 2018, Surgey submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the EPA requesting records concerning Pruitt’s trip to the 2018 Rose Bowl in California. The EPA acknowledged Surgey’s request but has failed to furnish any of the requested records.

Surgey’s request asked for emails, notes or expense reports that describe Pruitt’s trip to Pasadena, Calif., his attendance at the bowl game, any associated meetings or events that the administrator or his staff attended on the same trip and records showing who paid for the travel. The 2018 Rose Bowl was so popular among some University of Oklahoma and University of Georgia fans that some fans paid more than $1,500 for tickets.

“The public deserves to know whether Scott Pruitt received corporate hospitality at the Rose Bowl, how much it cost taxpayers and with whom he met,” said Surgey. “It unfortunately has become clear that the only way to obtain answers to simple questions like these from Scott Pruitt’s EPA is through the courts.”

Federal agencies must respond to FOIA requests with a denial or grant of access within 20 working days. To date, the EPA has failed to make a determination or produce any records in response to Surgey’s request.

“FOIA provides a statutory deadline for the EPA to respond to requests, and the EPA has failed to do so here,” said Patrick Llewellyn, one of the Public Citizen lawyers representing Surgey. “The EPA cannot avoid its statutory obligations by holding requests indefinitely.”

Read the complaint here.