Obama Education secretary mocks Pruitt over staff raises

Obama Education secretary mocks Pruitt over staff raises
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Former Education Secretary Arne DuncanArne Starkey DuncanAmerica's religion of anti-racism reaches peak absurdity What the next Education secretary must do How Democrats learned to stop worrying and love teachers MORE mocked Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Rate of new endangered species listings falls | EPA approves use of 'cyanide bombs' to protect livestock | Watchdog says EPA didn't conduct required analyses EPA didn't conduct required analyses of truck engine rule: internal watchdog Is Big Oil feeling the heat? MORE on Friday over reports that the EPA chief directed staff to approve sizable raises for two top aides even after the White House rejected their applications for pay increases.

In a tweet, Duncan jokingly apologized to former Education Department staffers for not raising their pay in a similar manner while in office. Duncan served in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2015.

News reports this week revealed that Pruitt used a provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act, which lets the EPA chief hire up to 30 people without having White House or congressional approval, to reappoint two aides and raise their salaries by $28,130 and $56,765.

"To all my team who worked with me at the Dept of Education for 7 years- I am so sorry I didn't give you raises of $56,765 or $28,130! Silly me, I just didn't know that was possible," Duncan, now a managing partner at the Emerson Collective, wrote on Twitter.

Pruitt had previously told Fox News that he had not known about the raises and had taken steps to correct the procedure after "learning" about the pay increases.

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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 that going forward,” Pruitt told Fox's Ed Henry.

EPA employees said that the move showed that Pruitt played favorites among senior staff.

“This whole thing has completely gutted any morale I had left to put up with this place," one employee told The Atlantic.

Pruitt's job is reportedly in question over a number of damaging stories, including separate reports that he accepted a deal to stay in a Washington condo co-owned by the wife of an energy lobbyist for just $50 per night he slept there last year.