Controversial husband and wife EPA duo to leave Washington

Controversial husband and wife EPA duo to leave Washington

A controversial husband and wife political duo is leaving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) D.C. office after nearly two years working there during the Trump administration.

Henry Darwin and his wife Veronica will leave Washington and return to their home state of Arizona, EPA head Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerOvernight Energy: Harris goes after DOJ antitrust probe of automakers over emissions | Trump on energy-efficient light bulbs: 'I always look orange' | Climate change only briefly discussed in third presidential debate Overnight Energy: Trump administration to repeal waterway protections| House votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge| Administration takes key step to open Alaskan refuge to drilling by end of year Trump administration to repeal waterway protections MORE wrote in an internal announcement sent to staff Friday afternoon obtained by The Hill.

Henry Darwin joined EPA as chief of operations under former Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Trump administration to repeal waterway protections| House votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge| Administration takes key step to open Alaskan refuge to drilling by end of year Trump administration to repeal waterway protections The Hill's Morning Report - Gillibrand drops out as number of debaters shrinks MORE and was promoted to deputy administrator under Wheeler last July.

While negotiating his job at EPA in May 2017, Henry Darwin also pitched a role for his wife, who he called a “legitimate environmental professional," according to internal emails obtained by ABC.

"It would help our financial decision immensely," Darwin wrote to EPA Chief of staff Ryan Jackson in the email. "If not out of the question, I would be happy to forward her resume and references (which I would suggest you check - everyone loves her almost as much as I do)."

The former Arizona state official’s wife Veronica Darwin was later hired to be a senior adviser to the administrator for Land and Emergency Management. 

Pruitt later came under fire for using his position at EPA to try to get jobs for close acquaintances, including a clerking internship for his daughter at the White House and a job for his wife opening up a Chick-fil-A franchise.

Wheeler in his email Friday said Henry Darwin will be stepping down from his role and will once again take the title of assistant deputy administrator at EPA. In the role he will “concentrate on the deployment of EPA’s Lean Management System (ELMS)” which he will do from Arizona.

“Given the amount of time he already spends traveling to the regional offices to deploy ELMS, his relocation to Phoenix should not impact his ability to help us become even more effective in carrying out our very important mission. In addition, Henry will be here at headquarters on a regular basis,” Wheeler wrote.

Wheeler announced Veronica Darwin left the agency on Aug. 9.

“While at EPA, Veronica managed implementation of the Superfund Task Force recommendations, and led other Administrator priorities like children’s health, and the development of the action plan for lead. These key initiatives will remain Administrator priorities, however Veronica’s leadership will be greatly missed,” wrote Wheeler.

When contacted, EPA did not provide details about the nature of the departures. An EPA spokesperson later hailed Veronica Darwin's 18 years of professional experience.

"Veronica Darwin has spent more than 18 years working extensively on environmental waste issues that included roles as a compliance officer at EPA’s Region 9 office (7 years) and as deputy division director for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s Waste Divisions Program (total of 8 years)," EPA spokesman Michael Abboud said.

"To only refer to her as Henry’s wife does a disservice to Veronica, but the incredible work she has done her whole career."

This story was updated Monday at 11:15 a.m.