A Pruitt primer
Over the course of Scott Pruitt’s first year as EPA administrator, there have been a series of questions raised about his practices and management of the agency. Here is a primer:
During the first half of 2017, the EPA chief paid $50 a night for a room in a Capitol Hill apartment that was owned in part by the wife of a top energy lobbyist.
The EPA made public a memo from the agency’s ethics counsel stating that the price Pruitt paid was reasonable market value, and in an interview with a columnist for the Washington Examiner, Pruitt said he was under attack because he was implementing President Donald Trump’s agenda. The EPA ethics counsel, however, has since revised his view and suggested that he didn’t have all the facts available to him when making the initial assessment.
Pruitt remains under fire for first-class and business-class travel. Records obtained by the Environmental Integrity Project showed that two weeks of travel in June for the administrator and his aides cost taxpayers more than $120,000. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is reviewing Pruitt’s travel, as is the EPA’s inspector general.
On Tuesday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., wrote to Pruitt asking him to explain a $40,000 five-day trip to Morocco with staff in December. Pruitt’s calendar for the trip showed one full workday and two other days with one hourlong meeting each.
The Atlantic published an article this week showing that the administrator bypassed the usual White House procedures to give political appointees substantial raises. The aides, Sarah Greenwalt and Millan Hupp, had both worked for Pruitt in Oklahoma, where he served as attorney general before coming to the EPA. Greenwalt’s salary was raised to $164,200 from $107,435, while Hupp’s was raised to $114,590 from $86,460.
Citing anonymous sources, the article outlines how Pruitt reappointed the aides with higher salaries under a provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act after the White House did not approve the raises.