Pruitt's chief of staff takes responsibility for controversial raises

Pruitt's chief of staff takes responsibility for controversial raises
© Greg Nash

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittGovernment watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas MORE’s chief of staff said on Tuesday that he is responsible for giving two top aides significant raises after the White House rejected the request.

Ryan Jackson said the move to use a special authority was all his and that Pruitt had nothing to do with it.

“Administrator Pruitt had zero knowledge of the amount of the raises, nor the process by which they transpired. These kind of personnel actions are handled by EPA's HR officials, [Presidential Personnel Office] and me,” Jackson said in a statement.

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Jackson said he gave the raises to Sarah Greenwalt and Millan Hupp because they were being paid less than their peers with similar responsibilities.

Jackson’s statement, first reported by The Atlantic, came in response to a Monday report in the magazine that an internal EPA email from Greenwalt stated that Pruitt personally approved of her raise.

As The Atlantic previously reported, Pruitt asked the White House last month to approve raises for Greenwalt and Hupp, since they are political appointees, and the White House refused. So the EPA used a special authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act to give the raises.

Pruitt told Fox News last week that he was not involved in the process and he’d just found out about it when The Atlantic reported about the raises. He also said he reversed them.

“My staff did and I found out about that yesterday, and I changed it,” he said. “The officials that were involved in that process should not have done what they did.”

Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthDems should run as economic progressives, says ex-Obama strategist Democrats must reconcile party factions to raise blue wave odds Senate Dems want DOJ review of Giuliani's work for foreign entities MORE (D-Ill.) alleged Monday that if Pruitt truly didn’t know about the raises, the EPA broke the law.

Duckworth in a letter to the Government Accountability Office seeking an investigation into the raises said that under spending legislation, the EPA administrator must approve all hiring and raises under the relevant Safe Drinking Water Act provision.