IG urged to finish Pruitt report ‘as soon as possible’

Source: Kevin Bogardus, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, June 18, 2018

The federal government’s chief ethics official asked the EPA inspector general today to move quickly on the review of allegations against Administrator Scott Pruitt.

In a letter to the internal agency watchdog, David Apol, the acting director and general counsel for the Office of Government Ethics, also recounts “new allegations” related to Pruitt’s use of his office for personal gain, such as the EPA chief having aides search for housing on his behalf as well as his security detail running his personal errands.

In addition, Apol notes reports of Pruitt asking subordinates to help find employment for his wife, including setting up meetings for Pruitt in an effort to secure her a Chick-fil-A franchise back home in Tulsa, Okla.

“These reports raise concerns about whether the Administrator misused his position,” Apol said in his letter.

Apol asks EPA IG Arthur Elkins to investigate these recent reports and issue his office’s review of Pruitt’s alleged misconduct soon so OGE can decide whether it needs to take action on its own.

“It is our understanding that you plan to issue a report concerning the previous (and possibly new) allegations,” Apol said.

“We ask you to complete your report, as soon as possible, so that we can decide whether to begin a formal corrective action proceeding in order to make a formal recommendation to the President.”

Apol added, “The American public needs to have confidence that ethics violations, as well as the appearance of ethics violations, are investigated and properly addressed.

“The efficacy of, and public trust in, our Government demands it,” he said.

IG spokeswoman Tia Elbaum told E&E News, “The IG and his senior leadership will review the request from OGE.”

The EPA administrator has been swamped with various scandals related to his costly travel, beefed-up security and renting a Capitol Hill condo linked to a lobbyist for part of last year, among other issues. Pruitt has established a legal defense fund as he grapples with several investigations by the IG, the Government Accountability Office and others.

Several Democrats and a few Republicans have called on Pruitt to resign from EPA or President Trump to fire him. Nonetheless, Trump again expressed confidence in Pruitt today, telling reporters Pruitt has “done a fantastic job running the EPA, which is very overriding” (Greenwire, June 15).