Pruitt didn’t pay aide for apartment hunt

Pruitt didn’t pay aide for apartment hunt
© Getty

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: EPA delays board's review of 'secret science' rules | Keystone pipeline spill affecting more land than thought | Dems seek probe into Forest Service grants tied to Alaska logging EPA delays advisers' review of 'secret science' rules What has EPA been hiding about formaldehyde? MORE didn’t pay a close aide to search for apartments for him, which one senator said is illegal.

Millan Hupp, a top scheduling aide to Pruitt, searched for apartments for Pruitt, an arrangement first reported by The Washington Post last month.

At a Senate Appropriations Committee subpanel hearing Wednesday, Pruitt said that Hupp’s apartment-hunting work didn’t happen during the hours she was working at the EPA, diffusing a potential issue over outside work during government time.

ADVERTISEMENT

“All activity that I’m aware of that was engaged in by the individual that you’re speaking about occurred in personal time,” Pruitt told Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallBureau of Land Management staff face relocation or resignation as agency moves west Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows Hillicon Valley: Twitter to refuse all political ads | Trump camp blasts 'very dumb' decision | Ocasio-Cortez hails move | Zuckerberg doubles down on Facebook's ad policies | GOP senator blocks sweeping election reform bill MORE (N.M.), the subpanel’s top Democrat.

But Pruitt potentially opened up another can of worms by saying that he did not personally pay Hupp for her apartment hunting.

“No, I did not,” Pruitt said.

Udall pointed to regulations that prohibit federal employees from doing unpaid voluntary work for their superiors.

“Then that’s a gift,” Udall said of Hupp’s work. “That’s in a violation of federal law.”

Hupp worked for Pruitt when he was attorney general of Oklahoma, and Pruitt brought her to Washington, D.C., along with a handful of other aides who now work for him.

Hupp initially attracted attention when the EPA gave her a raise of more than 30 percent. The White House rejected Pruitt’s request for the raise, as well as one for another political aide from his Oklahoma work, so the EPA found a way to go around the White House and institute the raises nonetheless.

Pruitt told lawmakers last month that while he knew about the raises, he didn’t know his chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, would do it without White House approval.

Pruitt told Udall Wednesday that Hupp’s raise had nothing to do with her closeness with him.

“The individual that you’re referring to is a longtime friend of my wife and myself,” he said.

“To link any type of review on a pay increase in just simply not substantiated. It’s just not related at all.”