Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy & Environment — Biden makes return to pre-Trump national monument boundaries official Trump-era EPA board member sues over firing EPA bans use of pesticide linked to developmental problems in children MORE instructed staff to approve raises for two top aides, The Washington Post reported Thursday, a day after the EPA chief implied he wasn't involved in the decisions.
The Post cites two EPA officials and one White House official who say that Pruitt instructed his staff members to approve the raises for two aides who had previously served under him in Oklahoma, though did not personally carry out the raises.
The news comes after Pruitt told Fox News in an interview that he had "learned" of the raises and taken steps to find out "how it took place."
“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.
The raises were given to Sarah Greenwalt and Millan Hupp, two aides who followed Pruitt to the EPA from Oklahoma, where he served as attorney general.
Pruitt requested that Greenwalt’s salary be raised from $107,435 to $164,200 and Hupp’s from $86,460 to $114,590 after the White House declined applications for raises for both women.
He instead reappointed the aides through 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, The Atlantic reported. The move gave him full control of the two aides' salaries.
EPA employees told The Atlantic 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 news outlet.
Pruitt's job in the Trump administration is reportedly in question due to a series of damaging news reports surrounding the EPA chief, including reports that he lived in a Washington, D.C., condo owned by the spouse of a top energy lobbyist for just $50 per night.
A number of high-ranking EPA employees were demoted, reassigned or requested new positions after questioning Pruitt, The New York Times reported Thursday. President TrumpDonald TrumpMcCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Biden's Supreme Court reform study panel notes 'considerable' risks to court expansion Bennie Thompson not ruling out subpoenaing Trump MORE said Thursday that he has confidence in the EPA administrator.