Pruitt frequently asked aides to help in personal matters for family: report

Pruitt frequently asked aides to help in personal matters for family: report
© Greg Nash

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report cited information from The New York Times that has since been updated. This article was updated June 17, 2018 at 10:22 a.m.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas EPA inspector general to resign Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog says agency failed to properly monitor asbestos at schools| Watchdog won’t investigate former Superfund head’s qualifications| Florence causes toxic coal ash spill in North Carolina MORE has frequently blurred professional and personal lines including asking aides to help in personal matters for his family, according to a New York Times report Friday.

Pruitt used at least three of his staffers to help get his daughter a summer internship at the White House, a coveted spot, the newspaper reported.

McKenna Pruitt served as a clerk of the White House Counsel in the summer of 2017.

Kevin Chmielewski, former EPA deputy chief of staff for operations turned whistleblower, told the Times of a conversation where he and other top aides were instructed by Scott Pruitt to “see what you can do” about getting his daughter the internship.

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Even before heading up the EPA, Pruitt used his position of power to try to influence his daughter's opportunities, according to the Times.
 
 
The paper also reported that Pruitt, while serving as Oklahoma attorney general, asked aides to arrange a meeting with former Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, William Howell (R), to request a letter of recommendation for his daughter McKenna Pruitt, who was applying to the University of Virginia Law School in November 2016.
 
The law school declined to comment to the Times, citing privacy concerns, but said in a statement to the newspaper on Saturday that McKenna Pruitt had given U-Va. officials permission to confirm her offer of early admission and that her application was reviewed "according to our usual admissions procedures."

McKenna Pruitt currently attends the university's law program.

Reports of Pruitt's tendency to ask staffers to conduct personal tasks is prolific, starting from the first moments he took office.

Chmielewski told The Hill that days before Pruitt officially joined the EPA he had his senior scheduler at the time, Sydney Hupp, arrange hotels for his family members to stay at during the presidential inauguration.

Chmielewski recalled Sydney Hupp later coming to him and Pruitt's chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, asking to be reimbursed for the hotel that she had to pay for personally.

“She literally went to Ryan and said, 'Look, Pruitt needs to pay me back for this. It was $600 bucks.' And Ryan took six $100 dollar bills out of his pocket,” said Chmielewski.

Jackson did not return a request for comment.

Chmielewski said Pruitt's personal and secretarial requests extended to most close staffers, including Syndey Hupp's sister, Milan Hupp, who he routinely asked to get him coffees or books.

“I can’t tell you how many cases that was,” Chmielewski said. “Other than the hotels, most things were smaller things but they started adding up.”

Milan Hupp, Pruitt's scheduler until she resigned last week, told congressional investigators recently that she also helped him on a months-long search for a Washington, D.C., based apartment at his request. She told the investigators that she worked a number of hours per day on the search, including time on the clock and on the weekends. She said she viewed more than 10 houses for Scott Pruitt.

She also told investigators she routinely helped him book personal travel, including a trip he took in the winter to see the Rose Bowl game. She used Pruitt's personal credit card, which she said she always had on hand, to book the flight.

Pruitt also used his security team in a similar fashion, asking them on a number of instances to pick up his dry cleaning, according to a report from The Washington Post last week. One of the errands his security team assisted him on included a citywide search for his favorite lotion sold at Ritz Carlton hotels.

An EPA spokesperson downplayed that report, saying Pruitt's security always escorts him wherever he goes, errands or not.

Pruitt has also faced criticism for questionable ethics surrounding favors he's also asked and received from close acquaintances and business ties including a $50 a night condo he rented from the wife of an energy lobbyist, tickets to sporting events he bought through business associates and jobs he sought for his wife, Marlyn, at fast-food chain Chick-fil-A and as an interior decorator.