Matt Shuham contributed reporting.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency’s chief ethics official says he is pushing for a series of independent investigations into Scott Pruitt’s actions as administrator of the federal agency.
In a letter to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, EPA ethics official Kevin Minoli writes that “potential issues” regarding Pruitt have surfaced through sources within the EPA and media reports since April.
Minoli writes that he has referred “a number” of those matters to the EPA’s inspector general. He says all are either under consideration for acceptance or under active investigation.
Minoli’s letter, first reported Saturday by The New York Times after the newspaper received a copy of the letter through a Freedom of Information request, doesn’t specify the issues referred for investigation.
Citing an unnamed federal official “with firsthand knowledge of the inquiries,” however, the Times reported that, among other potential investigations, Minoli recommended a probe of Pruitt’s $50-a-night condominium deal with Vicki Hart, a health care lobbyist whose husband, Steven Hart, is an old friend of Pruitt’s and was then chair of the lobbying firm Williams & Jensen. The firm this year refiled lobbying disclosures to show that Hart lobbied the EPA in 2017.
News media have reported Pruitt’s condo rental, his use of staff to handle personal matters and other practices. Pruitt faces more than a dozen federal inquiries into his spending and management practices as EPA administrator, according to the Times.
Earlier this month House Democrats asked the Justice Department to investigate Pruitt for potential criminal conduct, alleging that he repeatedly violated federal anti-corruption laws by seeking to leverage his government position for personal gain. They cited the condo arrangement as well as Pruitt directing an EPA aide to contact a senior Chick-fil-A executive as part of an effort to land his family a franchise, and a $2,000 payment to his wife from organizers of a conference Pruitt then attended at taxpayer expense.