Ethics official asks EPA watchdog to probe more Pruitt scandal allegations

Ethics official asks EPA watchdog to probe more Pruitt scandal allegations
© Greg Nash

The federal government’s top ethics official is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) internal watchdog to probe more of Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Controversial Trump adviser reportedly returning to EPA | Delta aims to be first carbon neutral airline | Dem senator gives EPA D-minus on 'forever chemicals' Architect of controversial EPA policies to return as chief of staff: report EPA asked to justify proposal to limit power of its science advisers MORE’s latest scandals.

David Apol, acting director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), had previously sought investigations into numerous alleged violations of ethical standards, such as his condo rental from a lobbyist for $50 per night he slept there and charges that he spent taxpayer money for personal gain.

Since Apol sent that letter in early April, Pruitt has racked up numerous other controversies, mostly centered on allegations that he used his position, official resources or government-paid aides for personal gain.


“A variety of sources raise concerns about the administrator’s use of his position,” Apol wrote Friday to EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins.

Apol also pushed Elkins to wrap up his ongoing investigations into the ethical allegations against Pruitt so that he and his office can determine whether to recommend that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE take disciplinary action.

Apol’s letter listed off recent news reports that Pruitt enlisted aides to search for an apartment, to get a used Trump International Hotel mattress for him, that he assigned his security detail to run personal errands and that he had aides look for job opportunities for his wife, Marlyn, including possibly becoming a Chick-fil-A franchisee.

“These reports raise concerns about whether the Administrator misused his position,” Apol said.

Elkins is already investigating many of Pruitt’s scandals, including whether he used staffers for personal tasks, but Apol asked Elkins to add the latest investigations.

“We ask you to complete your report, as soon as possible, so that we can decide whether to begin a formal corrective action proceeding in order to make a formal recommendation to the President,” Apol said.

Earlier Friday, Trump repeated his support for Pruitt, though noted that some of Pruitt’s actions bother him.

“I’m looking at Scott, and Scott’s done a fantastic job at EPA,” Trump told reporters. “I’m not happy about certain things. I’ll be honest.”