Top government ethics official demands EPA investigate Pruitt's spending, housing controversies

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt answers reporters' questions during a briefing at the White House last year

The Republican chairman of the Senate Environment Committee voiced support Monday for Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, even as other Republicans expressed concern about Pruitt's ethics and spending on security and travel.

OGE itself does not have authority to take action in response to potential ethical violations by Pruitt, and in the letter, Apol said OGE expects the EPA to "review and analyze" Pruitt's conduct alongside a simultaneous response from the inspector general for the EPA.

"The American public must have faith that ethics violations, in addition to the looks of ethics violations, are investigated and correctly addressed", he wrote. Last week, an EPA spokesman said Pruitt's actions were in compliance with federal ethics regulations.

President Trump shakes hands with EPA chief Scott Pruitt after announcing his decision for the United States to pull out of the Paris climate agreement
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Fox example, she said she was not told that Pruitt's daughter, McKenna, lived in a second bedroom in the condo while she was in Washington for a White House internship. On Saturday, President Donald Trump tweeted about Pruitt, saying, "Rent was about market rate, travel expenses OK".

I had filed a #FOIA with EPA for any records of death threats made against Scott Pruitt.

Democratic senators have asked the department's inspector general to probe the raises after The Atlantic reported that Pruitt used a provision under the Safe Drinking Water Act to move forward with the raises, which allows the administrator to appoint 30 staffers without the White House's permission. The OGE does not have authority to take action with respect to any possible violation, according to CNN. Already facing big questions about his wasteful spending and relationships with lobbyists, Pruitt intensified his problems by dishonestly blaming his staff for one major ethical failure. The EPA did not respond to AP's request Friday to provide details of "any specific threats or arrests".

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In the April 6 letter, the Office of Government Ethics raised a number of concerns it hopes EPA officials will clarify, such as whether Pruitt's stay at a condo tied to the energy lobbyist, J. Steven Hart, qualifies as a gift.

Enforcement against polluters has dropped significantly under Pruitt's leadership, with the EPA resolving just 48 civil cases in its first year under the Trump administration - compared with 71 civil cases under the Obama administration's first year and 112 cases under the George W. Bush administration's first year.

On Tuesday afternoon the E.P.A. acknowledged that the agency official who had signed off on the February assessment questioning Mr. Pruitt's security threats had been dismissed. But he said in a September interview with E&E News that there were more investigations into threats against Pruitt than for either of his two immediate predecessors.

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But while Pruitt has been ineffective at the kinds of regulatory rollbacks that could save industry money - and effective at undercutting the kind of work the EPA does to hold polluters accountable for environmental damages - he has been extremely effective at spending taxpayer money for his own needs.

That's on top of previously ongoing investigations into the administrator's outsized travel spending and purchase of a $43,000 soundproof privacy booth purchased for the administrator to make private phone calls. The Associated Press also reported that Pruitt sometimes flew on a companion pass obtained with the frequent flyer miles of Ken Wagner, a former law partner from Oklahoma that Pruitt hired to serve as a senior adviser at the EPA.

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