EPA staffer helped Pruitt search for housing on weekends: report

EPA staffer helped Pruitt search for housing on weekends: report
© Greg Nash

An employee tasked with organizing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittTrump official violated ethics rules in seeking EPA job for relative, watchdog finds Pelosi hammers Pompeo, Trump: 'Scandalous' to dismiss IGs EPA emails reveal talks between Trump officials, chemical group before 2017 settlement MORE's schedule also reportedly aided him on weekends in searching for an apartment.

Millan Hupp, 26, who works as Pruitt’s director of scheduling, helped Pruitt and his wife search for living quarters months after he arrived in Washington, D.C., between July and September, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Three individuals with knowledged confirmed to the Post that Hupp was the point person on the housing search, which included contacting local real estate companies and viewing properties for both rent and sale.

“There’s a general prohibition against misusing government resources, and employees are government resources,” Don Fox, the former acting director and general counsel of the Office of Government Ethics, told the Post. “It’s clearly personal, and frankly, it doesn’t matter if she did it 11 a.m. on a Tuesday or at 2 p.m. on a Saturday if, in fact, that was an expectation of the job.”

Pruitt previously was renting a room in a condo from the wife of a prominent energy lobbyist for $50 a night, according to EPA. An EPA spokesman said Pruitt moved out of the rental in July.

That arrangement is under increasing scrutiny

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Hupp came to D.C. to work for Pruitt at the EPA after previously serving as his deputy finance director when he was Oklahoma attorney general. Before her work for Pruitt, Hupp was a sales manager at an Embassy Suites in Nashville, according to her online résumé.

Hupp was one of two EPA employees to recently receive significant wage increases at the agency. Her salary increased by 33 percent in March, from $86,460 to $114,590, The Atlantic first reported Tuesday.

Pruitt was reportedly a key figure in arranging for the salary increase, which was originally rejected by the White House. As a work-around, the agency used a provision in the Safe Drinking Water Act that allows the administrator to hire up to 30 people without White House or congressional approval, according to the Tuesday report. The measure is typically used to hire experts in a certain field.

The latest revelation comes amid a flurry of news reports painting a picture of an administrator who frequently blurs work and personal life.

The news includes reports that Pruitt held GOP fundraisers at the condo he was renting from the wife of the head of a top energy lobbying firm and that he signed off on a pipeline expansion for a company represented by that firm while he was still living there.

EPA spokespeople have denied the link and maintained that Pruitt’s rental of the condo was ethical, claiming he paid fair market value.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal plan to contain Washington protests employs 7,600 personnel: report GOP Rep calls on primary opponent to condemn campaign surrogate's racist video Tennessee court rules all registered voters can obtain mail-in ballots due to COVID-19 MORE on Tuesday tamped down rumors that Pruitt might be on the outs with the administration following the rush of news. Trump said of Pruitt “I hope he’s going to be great” when asked by reporters at the White House.