Pruitt aide helped him book personal flights, try to buy a Trump Hotel mattress: Dems
A close aide to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt helped him with numerous personal tasks, like booking flights for a personal trip and trying to buy a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., congressional Democrats say.
The allegations regarding Pruitt’s scheduler Millan Hupp came Monday in a letter from top House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Democrat Elijah Cummings (Md.) and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), a senior member of that panel.
Their letter to Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) is based on an interview Hupp gave to committee staffers from both parties last month. The Democrats want Gowdy to subpoena EPA for more details on the matter.
Pruitt has previously confirmed that Hupp helped him hunt for apartments last year. That work, as well as the other personal work Hupp recounted, likely violates federal regulations prohibiting federal workers from providing gifts to their supervisors and their supervisors soliciting that work, Cummings and Connolly say.
Hupp also told investigators that she completed some of the tasks for Pruitt during official work hours, which would also violate federal rules, the Democrats allege.
Hupp said she helped Pruitt look for rental properties, including sending “a couple emails” during work hours and visiting properties during her lunch hour, though she used her personal phone, computer and email account, according to transcript excerpts the lawmakers put in their letter.
The work took place over “a couple months” during summer 2017, and spanned at least 10 hours, she said. Pruitt specifically asked for her help.
Pruitt for about six months lived in a Capitol Hill condo that he was renting from a health-care lobbyist for just $50 for each night he slept there, an arrangement that is now under numerous ethics investigations. Hupp’s apartment hunting was part of an effort Pruitt was undertaking to find another living arrangement.
Hupp also told the investigators about other, previously unknown work she did for Pruitt.
In one instance, she worked to help Pruitt buy an old mattress from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, which President Trump’s company owns as part of a revocable trust.
“As I remember, the Administrator had spoken with someone at the Trump Hotel who had indicated that there could be a mattress that he could purchase, an old mattress that he could purchase,” Hupp said. She added that she did not know why he wanted it or if he ended up getting it.
In another instance, Hupp helped Pruitt buy airline tickets for personal use, she said. Pruitt sent her the details for flights to and from the Rose Bowl Game, in which Pruitt’s home-state Oklahoma Sooners played.
Hupp bought the flights using Pruitt’s personal credit card, which she had on hand for that kind of task, she told the congressional aides. She did not know why Pruitt needed help with that, but said she did it during vacation time, using personal resources and only using her EPA email to give details to his security detail.
“He just sent me the flight details and asked me to book for him,” she said, according to the transcript.
Asked to comment on the Democrats’ letter, EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said only that agency staff are “working diligently with Chairman Gowdy and are in full cooperation in providing the Committee with the necessary documents, travel vouchers, receipts and witnesses to his inquiries.”
A spokeswoman for Gowdy said the investigation into various Pruitt scandals is ongoing, and criticized the Democrats for revealing what they put out on Monday.
“Selectively releasing portions of witness interview transcripts damages the credibility of our investigation and discourages future witnesses from coming forward. The committee will continue conducting a serious, fact-driven investigation, and therefore will wait until the conclusion of our investigation to release our findings,” the spokeswoman, Amanda Gonzalez, said in a statement.
Hupp first entered the spotlight in April, when The Atlantic reported that she was given a raise to $114,590 from $86,460.
The White House refused Pruitt’s request to provide the raise, so Pruitt’s staff found a way to go around the White House and do it themselves. Pruitt reversed the raise and another one for another aide after public outcry, and maintained that he did not know his staff would defy the White House to implement the raises.
The Washington Post later reported that Hupp helped Pruitt search for apartments.
Pruitt told senators last month that Hupp’s personal work was never during work hours. He described her as a longtime friend of him and his wife — Hupp had worked for his PAC in Oklahoma — and her raise had nothing to do with her personal work for him.
“The individual that you’re referring to is a longtime friend of my wife and myself,” he told Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.). “To link any type of review on a pay increase is just simply not substantiated. It’s just not related at all.”
Nonetheless, Udall said Hupp’s work was illegal.
“That’s a gift,” he said of the apartment hunting. “That’s in violation of federal law.”
–Updated at 11:01 a.m.
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
More Energy & Environment News
Equilibrium & Sustainability
Energy & Environment
Energy & Environment