EPA approved aide to work for GOP firm, Florida lawmaker

EPA approved aide to work for GOP firm, Florida lawmaker
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved one of Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittEPA moving ahead with science transparency rule by 'early next year' Overnight Energy: Trump administration to repeal waterway protections| House votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge| Administration takes key step to open Alaskan refuge to drilling by end of year Trump administration to repeal waterway protections MORE's political aides to do outside consulting work for a Republican firm, internal documents obtained in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request show.

EPA ethics officials approved John Konkus to work for Jamestown Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based political consulting firm, and a Florida state representative while he was still employed at the agency, E&E News first reported Friday.

EPA did not release the name of the Florida lawmaker. Jamestown Associates boasts on its website that it helped Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMarine unit in Florida reportedly pushing to hold annual ball at Trump property Giuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it MORE's presidential campaign win and buoyed Chris Christie's 2013 New Jersey gubernatorial race.

The document dated Aug. 1, 2017, from EPA ethics official Justina Fugh approved Konkus's request to partake in the paid outside work. The letter also acknowledged the Konkus had plans to add additional clients in the "next six months." The letter stated that Konkus could not earn more than $27,765 through outside compensation. 

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"We have determined that providing consolatory media advice is not a fiduciary role, and you will be providing those services directly as opposed to through any corporation," the letter read.

The ethics office approved Konkus to advise clients about "strategy, mail and media production."

Another internal letter obtained by E&E news found that Konkus never performed outside work in 2017.

In a public financial disclosure report for Konkus's 2017 wages, Fugh wrote a note on April 25, 2018, that read, "Even though Mr. Konkus had sought prior approval of anticipated outside activity, he indicated that he did not in fact engage in any outside activity at all during calendar year 2017. Therefore, he has no outside income or position to report."

Konkus's arrangement was first revealed in a letter the EPA sent in January to Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneHouse reaches deal on continuing resolution, vote expected Thursday Democrats hold first hearing in push for clean energy by 2050 EXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns MORE (N.J.), the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

But the agency redacted the names of the clients Konkus was approved to work for.

At the time, Pallone and his Democratic colleagues questioned whether Konkus’s outside employment raised a conflict of interest.

“A political appointee cutting millions of dollars in funding to EPA grant recipients on what appears to be a politically motivated basis, while at the same time being authorized to serve as a paid media consultant to unnamed outside clients, raises serious concerns of potential conflicts of interest,” Pallone wrote along with Democratic Reps. Diana DeGette (Colo.), Paul Tonko (N.Y.) and Kathy Castor (Fla.).