Pruitt says he didn’t know about staffers’ controversial pay raises

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittPruitt's office discussed hiring friend of his landlord: report Five things to know about efforts to repeal Obama's water rule Overnight Energy: OPEC strikes deal to boost crude production | Pruitt sent one work email outside EPA in first 10 months | Perry, oil execs head to gas conference MORE said he wasn’t aware that two close aides received pay raises after the White House refused to allow it.

“My staff and I found out about it yesterday and I changed it,” Pruitt told Fox News in an interview published Wednesday, adding that he wasn’t sure who was responsible for the raises.

“You don’t know? You run the agency. You don’t know who did it?” Fox’s Ed Henry asked the EPA head.

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“I found out this yesterday and I corrected the action and we are in the process of finding out how it took place and correcting it,” Pruitt responded.

The pay raise controversy is just one in a series of scandals Pruitt has been involved in in recent days.

The Atlantic reported Tuesday that Pruitt asked the White House to give his senior counsel Sarah Greenwalt a raise to $164,200 from $107,435, and his scheduling director Millan Hupp a raise to $114,590 from $86,460, but the White House rejected the request. Since they are political appointees, the White House must approve such raises.

But the EPA then decided to use an obscure authority it has under the Safe Drinking Water Act, which exempts certain employees from civil service rules, to give Greenwalt and Hupp the raises.

Fox’s Henry asked Pruitt if the two are friends of his.

“Well, they serve a very important person,” he responded.

“And you did not know that they got these large pay raises?” Henry asked.

“I did not know that they got pay raises until yesterday.”

Hupp also helped Pruitt search for apartments during off hours, The Washington Post reported.

Pruitt has spoken only to a handful of conservative media outlets in the days since the controversies were first publicly reported.

In an interview with the Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard, Pruitt blamed “people that have long in this town done business a different way” for fueling the controversy over renting an apartment from the wife of an energy lobbyist.

He told The Daily Signal that many of the news reports about the apartment controversy are untrue or incomplete.