February 17, 2017

Whitehouse Statement on Oklahoma Court Ruling Requiring Disclosure of Pruitt Emails

Washington, DC – Today, Oklahoma District Court Judge Aletia Haynes Timmons ruled that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator nominee Scott Pruitt must release roughly 3,000 email communications between him and the fossil fuel industry.  The ruling comes on the eve of Pruitt’s confirmation vote in the Senate.  Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), issued the following statement on the Court’s decision:

“Scott Pruitt sat on this information for two years; a judge ordered them produced by Tuesday.  This information ought to be evaluated before Republicans jam his nomination through to lead the EPA.  The Majority Leader should delay the vote to confirm Mr. Pruitt until the Senate has had time to review the documents the Oklahoma judge has ordered to be released.  This is basic due diligence and fairness.”

The Center for Media and Democracy and the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma have sued Mr. Pruitt in Oklahoma District Court for violating the Oklahoma Open Records Act by failing to provide public access to official emails and other documents for more than two years.

Judge Timmons explained her ruling today saying, “After hearing argument, [the] Court finds there was an abject failure to provide prompt and reasonable access to documents requested by plaintiff on January 5th, 2015.”

Whitehouse and fellow EPW members requested the information subject to the ruling during Pruitt’s confirmation process.  Rather than divulge it, he referred the Senators to his own office’s process for requesting documents under the Open Records Act—a process that can take months, or even years, to complete, as evidenced by the litigation.  The Senators weighed in on the legal action yesterday.


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