EPA administrator Scott Pruitt was adamant in his disastrous interview with Fox’s Ed Henry that he was unaware of the controversial raises given to two aides and that he attempted to find out which officials were responsible. The interview not only did not sit well many viewers, it clearly did not sit well with people at the EPA and the White House. The Washington Post is reporting that he personally instructed agency staff to approve raises for two top aides who had previously served under him in Oklahoma, The Post reports that two EPA officials and a White house official confirmed that Pruitt not only knew of the raises but instructed underlings to approve them.
Sarah Greenwalt and Millan Hupp came to Washington with Pruitt after working with him at the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office. Pruitt asked that Greenwalt’s salary be raised from $107,435 to $164,200 and Hupp’s from $86,460 to $114,590. However, the White House refused the raises. The two staffers were then reappointed under a provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act. It was a highly improper maneuver to use a provision allowing for the hiring of up to 30 people. The provision allowed for such hires (generally experts) to work on safe drinking water — not circumvent pay limitations for favored staff members.
In his Fox interview, Pruitt told Henry “My staff and I found out about it yesterday and I changed it . . . I found out this yesterday and I corrected the action and we are in the process of finding out how it took place and correcting it.” If these officials are telling the truth, Pruitt compounded a scandalous decision with an outright lie.
Pruitt is under widespread criticism for his reported sweatheart deal with the wife of a major lobbyist for companies like Exxon. Pruitt was give a room at a D.C. condo for the low rate of $50 per night. He was only charged for nights that he slept at the condo and EPA officials now say that they were not given the full facts when asked for their approval of the arrangement.