Report: Pruitt Used Loophole To Give Two Top Aides Huge Raises

WASHINGTON, DC - December 7:  Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on December 7, 2017 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 7: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Decem... WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 7: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on December 7, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images) MORE LESS
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

After the White House rejected a request to grant significant raises to two of his top aides last month, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt used a loophole in a law meant to ease the hiring of environmental experts to give the staffers raises himself, the Atlantic reported Tuesday.

The raises went to Pruitt’s senior counsel Sarah Greenwalt and EPA scheduling director Millan Hupp, the Atlantic reported. Their pay increased from $107,435 to $164,200 and $86,460 to $114,590, respectively. Both staffers had worked for Pruitt when he was Oklahoma attorney general.

The Safe Drinking Water Act allows Pruitt to hire up to 30 people without White House or congressional approval. But instead of using that authority to hire environmental experts needed in certain understaffed offices at the agency, the Atlantic reported, Pruitt used it to give Greenwalt and Hupp the increased salaries he’d wanted — after the White House had rejected his request for the raises, according to unnamed sources familiar with those aspects of the story.

The magazine said it obtained human resources documents showing the pay increases time-stamped two weeks after Pruitt approached the White House about them.

The story comes amid a wave of similar scandals for Pruitt: He rented a townhouse from the lobbyist wife of a powerful environmental lobbyist at well below the market rate; he spent tens of thousands of dollars flying first class in order to avoid people cursing at him; and he brought his comically oversized security detail with him to the Rose Bowl, Disneyland and a University of Kentucky basketball game, according to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

The White House reportedly doesn’t appreciate Pruitt’s various misuses of taxpayer dollars — or, at least, it doesn’t like how they look.

Now, Pruitt will face additional scrutiny for his roundabout raises for the two senior staffers: Beginning last spring, Sens. Whitehouse and Tom Carper (D-DE) began asking questions about Pruitt’s use of the Safe Drinking Water Act to hire Nancy Beck, a former chemical industry lobbyist. As an administrative hire, Beck didn’t have to sign the White House’s ethics pledge not to work on issues on which she’d lobbied in the past two years. Did Pruitt use the law to avoid Beck having to sign that pledge? the senators have asked. 

In March, the Atlantic reported, the EPA’s inspector general started probing the same questions.

“It’s a complete coincidence that Pruitt went behind the White House’s back and used this in the most unethical way possible, just as the [inspector general] starts asking questions,” an unnamed EPA staffer told the Atlantic. “Now they just have to connect the dots.”

Latest Livewire

Notable Replies

  1. Here’s a guy that would actually drain a swamp if he thought there was a lump of coal in the bottom.

  2. Hmmm, I was betting Scotty was going to last until next week. Now, I’m not so sure.

    Looks like everybody’s gunning for him.

    Color me sad…not.

    @atldrew

  3. Avatar for sanni sanni says:

    Bad optics that as this story gets leaked - the WH reports Trump calls to support Pruitt.

    Read elsewhere this morning - someone in the WH seems to be working hard (via leaking) to get Pruitt ousted.

  4. Well blatant corruption isn’t cause for firing in the drump admin, someone should leak that Pruitt thinks drump is a moron.

  5. Kellyanne???

Continue the discussion at forums.talkingpointsmemo.com

54 more replies

Participants

Avatar for paulw Avatar for xpurg8d Avatar for marby Avatar for tigersharktoo Avatar for steviedee111 Avatar for hassler Avatar for thebigragu Avatar for clearwater Avatar for phillydave Avatar for johnrm Avatar for joelopines Avatar for maxaroo Avatar for musgrove Avatar for riverstreet Avatar for fiftygigs Avatar for jordanolsen26 Avatar for rickjones Avatar for jacksonhts Avatar for lizzymom Avatar for krux Avatar for carolson Avatar for evave2 Avatar for pwmesq Avatar for rascal_crone

Continue Discussion
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: