Senate confirms former coal lobbyist as top EPA deputy

14 April, 2018, 11:58 | Author: Dustin Murphy
  • EPA Head Scott Pruitt Faces More Allegations of Ethics Violations

EPA removed a career staffer Tuesday who approved an internal report that undermined Administrator Scott Pruitt's claims that he needed around-the-clock bodyguards and other expensive security protection, according to two former agency employees familiar with the situation. A year ago he spent a staggering $3 million on travel, and today he's reportedly protected by security force of 19 agents and a fleet of at least 19 vehicles, paid for by taxpayers, even though the EPA can't explain why Pruitt needs unprecedented protection like that.

Over eight pages, the Democrats detail point-by-point how Chmielewski corroborated recent reports alleging questionable spending and actions at the EPA under Pruitt. "Find me something to do", were the instructions Mr. Pruitt gave his staff, after telling them he wanted to travel to particular destinations, the letter says, quoting Mr. Chmielewski, who was expected to sign off on the trips. "He should have known better, and he may pay a heavy effect for them".

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said Pruitt will respond to members of Congress "through the proper channel".

The two letters provide fresh insight into the way Pruitt treated those around him, including top political appointees, who questioned his extravagant use of taxpayer dollars.

According to the letters, Pruitt would also frequently exceed his allowable US government per diem rate, "sometimes even exceeding the 300 percent cap permitted in exceptional circumstances".

Environmental Protection Agency officials assured Butte it is taking action to make the agreement more transparent.

If Pruitt left, it could fall to Wheeler to run the agency until a new administrator is confirmed.

He thinks it looks like a marijuana leaf.

Murray has publicly said that climate change is not a problem and that carbon dioxide, which the EPA lists as the primary greenhouse gas, is not a pollutant.

A source in the White House acknowledged that numerous mishaps surrounding Pruitt threatened to waylay Wheeler's nomination.

Pruitt also insisted they book flights on Delta, even though it was not the preferred air carrier for government travel, so that the administrator could accrue frequent flyer miles.

The lawmakers said Chmielewski described a culture of intimidation and fear at the agency, and that he was warned about it during his first days on the job, when EPA Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson offered him this quixotic welcome: "The nightmare is now yours".

Chmielewski, a lifelong Republican and former Trump aide, was placed on administrative leave in February by Pruitt.

Two Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee - Jeff Merkley of OR and Tom Carper of DE - sent a letter Tuesday to the EPA's inspector general asking the office to probe the matter.

Chmielewski met Tuesday with Democratic investigators and huddled Thursday with Republicans from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, according to staffers on Capitol Hill.

Still, after waging a public relations campaign last week, exclusively via the conservative media, Pruitt has been able to hang onto his job by portraying himself as a would-be martyr of the Trump era.

Pruitt allegedly stayed in the D.C. condo for just $50 per night, far below market rate but was consistently late on the payments when he paid at all.


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