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Pruitt Spending Scandals Trigger First EPA Exit

by Countable | Updated on 4.5.18

UPDATE April 5, 2018: Days after the story broke that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had authorized significant raises for two senior aides, contravening an order from the White House, Pruitt offered an exclusive on-camera interview to Fox News. The exchange at times grew testy, especially when the discussion turned to the raises.

Despite having singular authority to authorize the appointments under the Safe Drinking Water Act that allowed for the raises, Pruitt insisted he did not authorize them and the staff person who did was being dealt with.

Now news has broken that Samantha Dravis, senior counsel and associate administrator in EPA’s Office of Policy, tendered her resignation last week. Dravis came to Washington from Oklahoma with Pruitt, as did Greenwalt and Hupp, who received the raises that are the subject of controversy.

Agency officials insist that Dravis is simply leaving to pursue opportunities in the private sector. It is unknown whether or not she was instrumental in any of the decisions that have spurred recent controversy. But, an agency source told The Hill that Dravis' departure was a "five-alarm story" given her close relationship with the embattled administrator.

What’s the story?

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt hasn’t yet been reported to have raised the ire of the White House over his travel expenses, but he may have finally crossed a line. Reports surfaced this week that he circumvented a White House decision, providing big raises to some of his senior aides who accompanied him to Washington from his home state of Oklahoma.

  • In March, Pruitt is reported to have requested significant raises for two of his senior aides. Since they are political appointees the raises had to be approved by the White House, but the White House turned Pruitt down.

  • Pruitt and his team then re-appointed the two women to their exact same positions under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Act allows the EPA Administrator to hire up to 30 people without Congressional or White House approval. It was designed to allow for the hiring of "specialists into custom-made roles in especially stressed offices", Bob Perciasepe, a former acting EPA administrator, told The Atlantic.

  • Sarah Greenwalt, 30, is Senior Counsel at the EPA. After Pruitt’s order her salary was raised by $56,765. It jumped from $107,435 to $164,200.

  • Millan Hupp, 26, is the EPA Scheduling Director. After Pruitt’s order her salary was raised by $28,130. It jumped from $86,460 to $114,590.

  • Pruitt also used the provision in 2017 to hire Nancy Beck, a long-time lobbyist for the chemical industry, as the deputy head of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

The EPA’s Inspector General began investigating in March whether or not these actions were an abuse of the Act’s hiring authority.

What do you think?

Do you think Pruitt abused his hiring authority? What do you think the administration’s response should be to the revelation that he circumvented a White House decision?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(118)
  • Robert
    04/03/2018
    ···

    Please take control of the POTUS and save the United States of America. Your lack of action is dangerous. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. We have a narcissist for a President surrounded by nepotism. The American people deserve better. Our family will respond to your inaction in 2018 and 2020. Impeach Donald J. Trump. If President Obama had done any of what Trump is doing, he would have been lynched. DO THE RIGHT THING FOR OUR COUNTRY! Sincerely, Diana A. Bauman, Bradenton, Fl.

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  • Loretta
    04/03/2018
    ···

    Please get rid of this leach! He’s sucking the life right out of our democracy! And while you are at it IMPEACH the dictator that appointed him.

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  • Maggie thomson
    04/03/2018
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    It seems like this Safe Drinking Water Act money could better have been used to, you know, actually make Flint drinking water safe again. (Or Nashville for that matter-have read recent reports about the safety of our schools' water fountains that is concerning.)

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  • Chickie
    04/03/2018
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    Scott Pruitt must be dismissed immediately, along with a bill for him to repay the taxpayers for his ill spending. Both Greenwalt and Hupp are lawyers who worked with Pruitt when he was the attorney general in OK. Both are just more unqualified persons in their jobs! Last May, Pruitt hired a chemical industry LOBBYIST to head the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, (Nancy Beck). If this guy doesn’t get fired, our country will be left both polluted and contaminated!

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  • Gerald
    04/03/2018
    ···

    Corruption is like a malignant cancer cell. Once it attaches itself somewhere in the government, it just spreads and surfaces elsewhere until the host eventually dies. This started at the top with a lying president who brought in his family, hid his taxes, and surrounded himself with what must be the worst cabinet in history. It’s endless, travel abuses to taxpayers, wives buying expensive furniture, cover ups and lies. If Trump remains his whole term, the good will be fired or quit, and the corrupt will be embedded.

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  • Joane
    04/03/2018
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    This is the most a-moral set of individuals ever to be connected with White House. The entire bunch must be removed before our country is destroyed beyond repair. What a shambles we are leaving for the youth.

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  • OlderNWiser
    04/04/2018
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    The dictator is destroying our country chaotically by the day. His minions like Pruitt, Mulvaney, DeVos, et al destroy their agencies. His nepotism lines his pockets and his children along with Jared destroy everything they touch. Why are our elected representatives allowing corruption and hatred to destroy our country?

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  • KansasTamale
    04/03/2018
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    When is the Republican Congress going to STOP THIS MESS OF AN ADMINISTRATION??? Are they involved in the Russia collusion in our election?? If not they sure aren’t showing they’re not, because they aren’t not making any attempt to rein in Trump or his idiotic choices for cabinet. We aren’t going to have any money left in our treasury because of Trump’s bunch either.

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  • Milan
    04/04/2018
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    Pruitt is a disgrace to our country and our planet - his blatant disregard for the welfare of the earth we all share is harmful to us now and even more to the generations that follow us. This is not partisan - we all share the same home. Get out Pruitt! Stop using our tax dollars to line your pockets and fill your bank accounts

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  • Christine
    04/03/2018
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    Pruitt is despicable and needs to go.

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  • BeStrong
    04/03/2018
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    Alright then, is this the last straw for Pruitt...is it? Trip to Europe with wife in tow, $50/night luxury living from lobbyists, reassigning scientists to accounting, and now increasing salaries when directed not to. Is it time yet?

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  • jimsander
    04/03/2018
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    A special prosecutor needs to investigate probable wrongdoing. This EPA secretary likely belongs in jail for a new number of reasons.

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  • Countryfirst
    04/04/2018
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    THROW THIS BUM OUT OF OFFICE..HE'S MAKING MONEY WITH HIS LOBBYIST BUDDIES AND SCREWING AMERICA!

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  • Lorane
    04/04/2018
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    Scott Pruitt has been doing exactly what Trump expected him to accomplish. Pruitt is robbing the American people for his own profit. He does not understand climate issues and neither does he care what is happening to the United States climate. Pruitt & Trump are destroying this country. Neither one cares about this land, they are both greedy egomaniacs caught up in a feeding frenzy on the tax payers dollars.

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  • Pamela
    04/04/2018
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    Fire Pruitt. Impeach Trump. Impeach Pence. Keep impeaching until the swamp is truly drained!

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  • Caren
    04/03/2018
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    Mr. Pruitt needs to be fired! It is not his place to take it upon himself to give large raise to WH staffers. Perhaps the staffers are in need of a raise like the rest of us, but it wasn’t Pruitt’s place to do so without approval by the president and congress. Our country is in financial dire straits. There are a lot of cuts needed but hopefully that won’t hurt the elderly and disabled.

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  • John
    04/03/2018
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    Remove Pruitt immediately. Charge him with fraud and theft and jail him. Then arrest 45 for his theft of treasury monies through his padding his businesses bank accounts. And, arrest his thieving spawn and the rest of his cabinet. Enough of this RICO administration.

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  • Mindful
    04/06/2018
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    “You’re Fired”....but Trump is too cowardly to ever utter his words. And he is beholding to Pruitt. After all Pruitt is dismantling all the regulatory provisions inaugurated by Obama. And now, Pruitt continues the lying about his responsibility in granting pay raises even though forbidden. His behavior only reflects Trump’s own pathological disregard for truth & exemplar behavior.

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  • Robert
    04/04/2018
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    What the hell is going on, this is a free for all. EPA has went from protecting the environment to protecting corporations interests and lobbyists. They should change the name of the agency since they are not protecting the environment anymore.

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  • OldTimer
    04/03/2018
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    I think if he did this against Trumps wishes he will soon be looking for a job. I have noticed that Trump does not suffer renegades easily and has no problem replacing them.

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