The federal government’s top ethics official asked the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate possible ethical offenses by administrator Scott Pruitt and take “appropriate actions to address any violations.”
David Apol, the acting director of the Office of Government Ethics, contacted the EPA’s chief ethics official, Kevin Minoli, and called for him to examine Pruitt’s rental of a Capitol Hill condo for $50 a night from a lobbyist, his preference for first-class travel, his frequent trips to his home in Oklahoma and his treatment of the agency’s staffers.
“The American public needs to have confidence that ethics violations, as well as the appearance of ethics violations, are investigated and appropriately addressed,” Apol wrote in the letter released publicly on Monday.
He sent it to the EPA on Friday.
Apol’s missive comes as Pruitt takes heat after a number of media reports revealed he gave longtime aides raises despite the White House rejecting the pay hikes, his use of a 24/7 security team and paying $43,000 to build a soundproof telephone booth in his DC office.
The letter urged Minoli look into three instances involving Pruitt.
The first is Pruitt renting a condo for $50 a night from the wife of an energy lobbyist.
Apol said the EPA secretary did not seek ethical advice about the lease until he moved out and then provided “limited information” to ethics staffers who were looking into the arrangement.
He also wants the agency’s watchdog to look into Pruitt’s travel, including trips to Oklahoma where he served as the state’s attorney general, and raises to aides.
Apol said his travel raises “concerns about whether the Administrator is using his public office for personal gain in violation of ethics rules.”
Finally, he raised the “extremely concerning reports” of Pruitt demoting or reassigning staff who raised questions about his spending and travel.
“If true, it is hard to imagine any action that could more effectively undermine an agency’s integrity than punishing or marginalizing employees who strive to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations that safeguard that integrity,” Apol wrote in the letter.