January 22, 2019

Top aide to EPA chief Scott Pruitt resigns

08 June 2018, 10:10 | Devin Moran

Tom Williams Congressional Quarterly Newscom via ZUMA

Tom Williams  Congressional Quarterly  Newscom via ZUMA

The Scott Pruitt ethics saga is becoming comical.

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt enlisted the help of an aide to inquire about the possibility of a business opportunity with the fast food chain Chick-fil-A, according to emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request from the Sierra Club.

GOP members of Congress have largely followed Trump's lead in sticking by Pruitt, though there were increasing signs cracks are developing in that support. She stated, "Administrator Pruitt asked me to reach out to you and see if you might be willing to get a time set up for the two of you to have a meeting".

The counsel, Sarah Greenwalt, is due to appear for questioning this month by a panel of House Oversight committee staffers investigating allegations of ethics violations against Pruitt.

This week congressional Democrats released the transcript of an interview in which Millan Hupp, a close aide to Pruitt, said the administrator had her carry out personal errands, including researching the purchase of an old mattress from the Trump International Hotel. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said at an energy policy forum in Washington on Tuesday that Pruitt is "about as swampy as you get here in Washington, D.C". Federal rules bar public officials from receiving gifts from subordinates, including unpaid services, and from using their office for private gain.

President Donald Trump is standing by his embattled Environmental Protection Agency chief, even as the scandals and federal investigations continue to mount. But don't worry, it's all a part of the changes that the administration is making, according to Pruitt: "There's significant changes happening across, not only at the EPA, but across this administration and it's needed".

President Trump defended Pruitt at an event on Wednesday.

"Somebody has to say that about you a little bit, you know that, Scott", he added. The EPA in August spent $1,560 on a dozen customized silver fountain pens emblazoned with the agency's seal and Pruitt's signature.

The report comes as numerous reports on Pruitt's spending habits have distracted from the agency's work.

Pruitt's statement announcing her resignation called Hupp "a valued member of the EPA team".

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