Ethics and Accountability
Noteworthy ethical issues identified by attorneys general include California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in April 2017 for documents relating to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s potential conflicts of interest stemming from his time as Oklahoma Attorney General, where he took legal and factual positions in court filings contrary to the EPA’s positions.
In May 2017, the EPA announced that Administrator Pruitt had recused himself from some cases in which he had sued the EPA as Oklahoma Attorney General. He did not recuse himself, however, from participating in the EPA’s rulemaking processes, including the Clean Power Plan rule, despite the clear conflict growing out of his prior role as Oklahoma state attorney general.
Therefore, in August 2017, Attorney General Becerra sued the EPA for failing to comply with his FOIA request.
In January 2018, a coalition of 12 state attorneys general, led by Attorney General Becerra, filed an extensive, well-documented demand that the EPA withdraw the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan because Administrator Pruitt as Oklahoma Attorney General and as EPA Administrator had prejudged the outcome of the repeal process.