Two more top Pruitt aides resign

Two more top Pruitt aides resign
© Greg Nash

Two top aides to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: EPA halts surprise inspections of power, chemical plants | Regulators decline to ban pesticide linked to brain damage | NY awards country's largest offshore wind energy contracts EPA allows continued use of pesticide linked with brain damage Overnight Energy: Trump officials gut DC staff for public lands agency to move West | Democrats slam EPA over scientific boards | Deepwater Horizon most litigated environmental issue of decade MORE resigned this week after being caught up for months in the ongoing scandals surrounding her boss, the agency said.

Millan Hupp, Pruitt's scheduler, reportedly tendered her resignation shortly after congressional Democrats released transcripts Monday from an interview in which she said Pruitt assigned her numerous personal tasks, including trying to buy a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel.

Her resignation, first reported by The Atlantic, is effective Friday.

Sarah Greenwalt, a senior counsel at the agency, also announced her resignation, the EPA confirmed on Thursday. The Washington Post first reported her planned departure on Wednesday.

Greenwalt and Hupp worked with Pruitt in Oklahoma while he served as attorney general before accompanying him to Washington. 

“Millan has been a valued member of the EPA team from day one, serving an integral role in our efforts to take the president’s message of environmental stewardship across the country,” Pruitt said in a statement.

“I’ve had the opportunity to know Millan for the last several years as a colleague, friend and trusted partner," Pruitt said. "She has done outstanding work in all of her endeavors here and will be sorely missed. I wish her all the best.”

Pruitt applauded Greenwalt for her work for him both at EPA and as Oklahoma’s attorney general.

“Sarah has been a tremendous leader within the agency, overseeing the start of the [waters of the United States rule] rewrite as well as playing a vital role in our international relations,” he said. “While her work ethic, dedication and friendship will be missed at the agency, I know she will find success in her future endeavors in Oklahoma.”

Greenwalt said in her own statement that she plans “to once again serve the people of Oklahoma.”

Hupp, 26, and Greenwalt received significant pay raises earlier this year despite the White House rejecting those raises. Pruitt told lawmakers that he knew about the raises, but did not know his chief of staff would go around the White House process.

A top EPA official told The Atlantic that Hupp was “tired of being thrown under the bus by Pruitt” and seeing her name appear in headlines connected to the EPA's scandals.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox declined to comment to The Atlantic when contacted about the story, and insulted the reporter, saying “you have a great day, you’re a piece of trash," according to the news outlet.

In addition to the mattress, Hupp confirmed to congressional investigators that she searched for apartments for Pruitt last year, sometimes during work hours, and booked personal plane tickets for him. Democrats say that violates regulations against giving gifts to supervisors and the supervisors soliciting those gifts.

Hupp belonged to a small group of aides who had worked for Pruitt when he was Oklahoma’s attorney general, prior to his February 2017 confirmation to be EPA head. 

Pruitt told lawmakers last month that Hupp is a longtime friend of his and his wife's but her raise had nothing to do with that or her outside work for him.

“The individual that you’re referring to is a longtime friend of my wife and myself,” he told Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallDems open to killing filibuster in next Congress House passes bill to crack down on toxic 'forever chemicals' Overnight Energy: Trump threatens veto on defense bill that targets 'forever chemicals' | Republicans form conservation caucus | Pressure mounts against EPA's new FOIA rule MORE (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.”

Updated at 1:31 p.m. Thursday

CORRECTION: Samantha Dravis, head of the EPA’s office of policy before she stepped down in April, previously was the policy director at the Republican Attorneys General Association and the president of its affiliate, the Rule of Law Defense Fund. Pruitt was previously chairman of both organizations. An earlier version of this story included imprecise information.