Do we need a sticky for Scott Pruitt scandals?

Main Course
Post Reply
User avatar
VinnyD
Stew Ingredient
Posts: 62777
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:35 pm

Do we need a sticky for Scott Pruitt scandals?

Post by VinnyD » Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:09 am

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt last year had a top aide help contact Republican donors who might offer his wife a job, eventually securing her a position at a conservative political group that has backed him for years, according to multiple individuals familiar with the matter.

The job hunt included Pruitt's approaching wealthy party supporters and conservative figures with ties to the Trump administration. The individuals said he enlisted Samantha Dravis, then serving as associate administrator for the EPA's Office of Policy, to line up work for his wife.

And when one donor, Doug Deason, said he could not hire Marlyn Pruitt because of a conflict of interest, Pruitt continued to solicit his help in trying to find other possibilities.

A spokesman for the Judicial Crisis Network confirmed Tuesday that it employed the onetime school nurse "temporarily as an independent contractor," but it did not disclose via email how long she worked there or what she was paid. The spokesman said the position came about after the group received her résumé from Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society. The two organizations have financial ties.

Leo is a prominent Pruitt backer and longtime friend who was involved in arrangements for the administrator's visit to Italy last year. Taxpayers spent more than $100,000 on the trip, which included private tours of the Vatican and meals at some of Rome's finest restaurants.

EPA's Scott Pruitt enlisted security detail in picking up dry cleaning, moisturizing lotion
Marlyn Pruitt left the JCN earlier this year, the spokesman said, adding that the group was pleased with her work. But the search and hiring raises more ethics questions about Scott Pruitt's use of EPA staff as well as his contacts with GOP contributors and outside allies for his personal benefit. Federal ethics rules prohibit public officials from using their posts for private gain or receiving free services or other gifts from their subordinates.

More

User avatar
VinnyD
Stew Ingredient
Posts: 62777
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:35 pm

Re: Do we need a sticky for Scott Pruitt scandals?

Post by VinnyD » Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:11 am

I wonder if she worked as the in-house nurse.

And I wonder if she was not paid any more than she made as a school nurse.

Not that it would be OK even so.

User avatar
cuchulainn
Instigator
Posts: 30750
Joined: Sat Feb 26, 2005 5:57 pm

Re: Do we need a sticky for Scott Pruitt scandals?

Post by cuchulainn » Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:15 pm

I laughed when I heard that he was told not to eat at the White House mess any more.

User avatar
korgy
Stew Ingredient
Posts: 24956
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 12:55 am

Re: Do we need a sticky for Scott Pruitt scandals?

Post by korgy » Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:47 pm

yesterday, Laura Ingraham even came out against him. that says something.
"Iranians apparently disagree with korgy"

User avatar
eric84
Moderator
Posts: 54551
Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2005 8:31 pm

Re: Do we need a sticky for Scott Pruitt scandals?

Post by eric84 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:23 pm

This is a good roundup of how Pruitt has used his job for petty corruption that benefits him and his family. Using staff for family matters.


For Pruitt Aides, the Boss’s Personal Life Was Part of the Job

By Eric Lipton, Steve Eder, Lisa Friedman and Hiroko Tabuchi--NY Times
June 15, 2018

WASHINGTON — Senior staff members at the Environmental Protection Agency frequently felt pressured by Scott Pruitt, the administrator, to help in personal matters and obtain special favors for his family, according to interviews with four current and former E.P.A. officials who served as top political aides to Mr. Pruitt.

The officials said that Mr. Pruitt, who “had a clear sense of entitlement,” in the words of one of them, indicated that he expected staff members’ assistance with matters outside the purview of government.

The aides said the administrator — who is the subject of multiple investigations over ethics and other issues, but has been defended by President Trump as a champion of environmental deregulation — had also made it clear that he had no hesitation in leveraging his stature as a cabinet member to solicit favors himself.

As an example, Mr. Pruitt, shortly after taking the E.P.A. job, reached out to the former speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates seeking help for his daughter, McKenna, in securing admission to the University of Virginia School of Law. William Howell, the former speaker, appears on Mr. Pruitt’s official E.P.A. calendar, and he confirmed in an interview that he was approached by Mr. Pruitt and subsequently wrote a letter to the school’s dean on the daughter’s behalf.

Mary M. Wood, a spokeswoman for the university, declined to comment on the letter, which has not been previously reported, citing student privacy. Mr. Howell said he doubted his letter tipped the scales for Ms. Pruitt. A spokesman for Mr. Pruitt said that he and Mr. Howell had known each other for two decades and that “letters of recommendation are normal process for an application to law school.”

Separately, at least three E.P.A. staff members were dispatched to help Ms. Pruitt obtain a summer internship at the White House, the current and former staff members said.

Kevin Chmielewski, who was Mr. Pruitt’s deputy chief of staff for operations until February, recalled a conversation last year when Mr. Pruitt instructed him and other top aides to “see what you can do” about getting the internship, a highly competitive and prized post in Washington. Ms. Pruitt was selected as an intern last summer.

“We were constantly fielding requests like this, even though this had nothing to do with running the E.P.A.,” Mr. Chmielewski, one of the four political aides, said in an interview.

Jahan Wilcox, Mr. Pruitt’s spokesman, disputed the suggestion that aides played an inappropriate role in securing the internship and that the administrator expected them to help boost his and his family’s standing.

Mr. Chmielewski left the E.P.A. after falling out with Mr. Pruitt, but the three others aides confirmed the internship request, as well as multiple other personal directives from their boss described by Mr. Chmielewski. They said Mr. Pruitt told them that he expected a certain standard of living akin to wealthier Trump cabinet members. The aides felt as if Mr. Pruitt — who is paid about $180,000 a year — saw them as foot soldiers in achieving that lifestyle.

Kevin Chmielewski was Mr. Pruitt’s deputy chief of staff for operations. He said aides were “constantly fielding requests” that “had nothing to do with running the E.P.A.”CreditMark Makela for The New York Times
“The problem is he is not Trump — he is not a billionaire,” said one of the other aides, who spoke on the condition that they not be named. “But he sincerely thinks he is.”

The aides said E.P.A. staff members helped arrange meetings and phone calls for Mr. Pruitt with influential donors to his past campaigns and political causes in Oklahoma, where he served as a state lawmaker and attorney general before joining the Trump administration. The appointments — including with Philip Anschutz, a Denver-based billionaire — were kept off Mr. Pruitt’s public schedule, the aides said, because it was clear the sessions were not about E.P.A. business, even though agency staff was involved in setting them up.

Aides have also been deployed on missions related to Mr. Pruitt’s personal entertainment.

One aide, Millan Hupp, helped book his travel to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., where Mr. Pruitt had secured seats near the 50-yard line for the face value of $175 each, documents show. The tickets, for Mr. Pruitt and his wife and two children, were purchased five days before the sold-out New Year’s Day game this year.

Mr. Pruitt bought the tickets, the records show, from a special allotment for the University of Oklahoma, which appeared in the game against the University of Georgia. Tickets for equivalent seats were on sale on the secondary market for as much as seven times the price paid by Mr. Pruitt, data from two ticket companies show.

He obtained the tickets with the help of Renzi Stone, an Oklahoma university regent who runs Saxum, a large marketing firm with energy industry clients that include the American Petroleum Institute and GE Oil and Gas.

ADVERTISEMENT


Mr. Stone, in an email to The Times, confirmed that he had intervened on Mr. Pruitt’s behalf to help “navigate the purchase of tickets.”

“He asked. I was happy to assist,” Mr. Stone wrote, adding that he had known Mr. Pruitt since 2001 and considered him a friend.

In a letter on Thursday, Representative Elijah E. Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, asked Mr. Stone to provide any communication with Mr. Pruitt, as well as any documentation pertaining to the purchase of the Rose Bowl tickets. He also noted that at least one of Mr. Stone’s clients had regulatory matters pending before the E.P.A.

“Plains All American Pipeline, currently has a petition before the EPA to discharge hydrostatic test water from a pipeline in Corpus Christi, Texas,” Mr. Cummings said in his letter.

Mr. Wilcox, the spokesman, said, “Administrator Pruitt followed the regular process to buy tickets for any game.”

The political aides said that Mr. Pruitt’s desire to use his job for benefits unrelated to his E.P.A. work helped explain other actions that have been the subject of public scrutiny, including his first-class airline travel, an aide’s effort to help Mr. Pruitt’s wife get work with a conservative political group, and another aide’s intervening with the chief executive of the Chick-fil-A fast-food chain to help his wife set up a franchise, as The Washington Post first reported.

Image

Mr. Pruitt’s staff helped arrange a meeting with Philip Anschutz, a billionaire Republican fund-raiser.
CreditKevork S. Djansezian/Getty Images
Mr. Pruitt’s repeated requests of his staff have led some important backers, including Senator James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, to suggest that Mr. Pruitt may have crossed the line and should perhaps step down.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I’m afraid my good friend Scott Pruitt has done some things that really surprised me,” Mr. Inhofe told Laura Ingraham, a conservative television and radio host, this week. “If that doesn’t stop I’m going to be forced to be in a position where I say, ‘Scott, you’re not doing your job.’”

Questions about Mr. Pruitt’s behavior as administrator have led to at least a dozen investigations across the federal government. The newest inquiry, by the Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency, is examining Mr. Pruitt’s personnel practices and allegations that he may have used his E.P.A. office for political purposes, people with knowledge of the investigation said. At least two former E.P.A. officials said investigators had contacted them.

As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Mr. Pruitt earned an annual salary of about $133,000, and he had assets between $320,000 and $800,000, mostly in investment accounts, according to his disclosure documents. That included between $15,000 and $50,000 in a cash account. He reported a public employee’s retirement plan worth $100,000 to $250,000. His wife reported no income.

He also said he owed between $500,000 and $1 million on his $1.18 million home in Tulsa.

The requests to his staff for assistance began on his arrival in Washington, the four political aides said.

Mr. Pruitt and his daughter lived at first in a Capitol Hill condominium that Mr. Pruitt rented for $50 a night, even as the husband of the unit’s co-owner lobbied Mr. Pruitt on behalf of clients. Mr. Pruitt later pressed a political aide to help him find a new apartment, which he then complained was too noisy.

Finding work for the administrator’s wife, Marlyn, also became a top focus for agency workers, the current and former aides said.

ADVERTISEMENT


Despite efforts by a scheduler for Mr. Pruitt, a deal for a Chick-fil-A franchise did not materialize for Mrs. Pruitt. But a spokesman for Judicial Crisis Network, a dark-money group that helps get conservative judges named to federal courts, hired Mrs. Pruitt last fall after her husband’s aides and a longtime supporter intervened, agency staff members who worked on the effort said.

Mr. Pruitt’s interest in meeting with former political donors, the current and former aides said, was based on expectations that he might want to run for the United States Senate or some other office.

During a trip to Colorado last August, Mr. Pruitt reserved time for a meeting with Mr. Anschutz in what was listed only as a “private meeting.” Ryan Jackson, Mr. Pruitt’s chief of staff, helped set up the meeting, according to agency officials.

Mr. Chmielewski, the former deputy chief of staff, said that when he arrived at the office of Mr. Anschutz, a major Republican fund-raiser and owner of the Oklahoman newspaper, he questioned why the meeting would be among the administrator’s visits that day. Mr. Chmielewski said an agency colleague told him it was about fund-raising.

Image

Mr. Pruitt with his wife, Marlyn. Staff members said that finding work for her became a major focus.CreditCarolyn Kaster/Associated Press
Mr. Wilcox said Mr. Pruitt was allowed to set up personal meetings during his trips. A spokesman for Mr. Anschutz declined to comment.

Mr. Pruitt also had his staff include various sporting events in his schedule, which involved bringing his considerable E.P.A. security detail with him, the current and former aides said.

ADVERTISEMENT


Among the sporting events aides helped arrange for Mr. Pruitt to attend were two Washington Nationals baseball games, including one on July 5, when they negotiated access for Mr. Pruitt to the team’s batting practice before a scheduled matchup with the New York Mets.

“Thanks for taking my call this morning! If we could arrange for Administrator Pruitt to come to batting practice before July 5ths game, that would be wonderful!” Madeline Morris, then an E.P.A. aide, wrote in an email to the Nationals’ vice president for community engagement, Gregory McCarthy.

Emails show that Mr. Pruitt’s wife and two children also planned to attend the July game, and that E.P.A. officials coordinated security arrangements and a motorcade with the Nationals’ staff. The game was postponed because of inclement weather, and it is unclear whether Mr. Pruitt attended another game instead. Jennifer Giglio, a spokeswoman for the Nationals, declined to comment.

Mr. Pruitt did score free tickets — for himself, his wife and his chief of staff — to a Sept. 28 Nationals game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, according to a spokesman for Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah, who provided the tickets and said he used the game as a chance to discuss a Superfund cleanup project at a shuttered gold mine in his state.

“The two sat side by side for a few innings and discussed the Gold King Mine issues,” Paul Edwards, a spokesman for the governor, said in a statement.

Last fall, Mr. Pruitt was on hand for at least three home games in Norman, Okla., as the University of Oklahoma’s football team steamrollered its way to a conference championship, university records show.

Days before a game in mid-September against Tulane University, an E.P.A. staff member wrote the campus police requesting four passes for Mr. Pruitt’s security detail.

ADVERTISEMENT


The university provided documentation showing that Mr. Pruitt paid face value for two tickets for three home games. It also acknowledged that Mr. Pruitt was given special access to a group of 750 reserved tickets at the Rose Bowl. “Mr. Pruitt purchased his tickets from a block of tickets that the university holds for discretionary use at all of its teams’ games,” the university said in a statement.

Mr. Pruitt on Thursday evening demonstrated how he had kept Mr. Trump, at least until now, focused on his business-friendly agenda at the E.P.A., not his personal behavior and various investigations. On Twitter, he posted a photograph of himself sitting at Mr. Trump’s desk at the White House, announcing that the E.P.A. had just rolled back another Obama-era regulation, a clean water rule.

“Happy birthday, Mr. President!” he added.
Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair.

User avatar
birdlite
Stew Ingredient
Posts: 10726
Joined: Fri Jan 21, 2005 1:00 am

Re: Do we need a sticky for Scott Pruitt scandals?

Post by birdlite » Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:47 pm

Pruitt's s chief responsibility is to be the most corrupt...to keep attention away from Trump and Zinke and Carson.

Doesn't mean Pruitt shouldn't be out, but Trump wil do that when he needs some positive press

User avatar
VinnyD
Stew Ingredient
Posts: 62777
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:35 pm

Re: Do we need a sticky for Scott Pruitt scandals?

Post by VinnyD » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:59 am

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is investigating whether Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt retaliated against staffers who questioned his spending and management decisions, according to three individuals familiar with the probe.

During Pruitt's tenure, the EPA has reassigned or taken administrative action against several career officials and one political appointee who had objected to the way he was spending taxpayer funds or using the perks of his office, these individuals said.

Attorneys from the Office of Special Counsel, which responds to whistleblower complaints from federal employees and can choose to prosecute cases, is in the process of speaking to a half-dozen current and former employees as part of the case, according to Kevin Chmielewski, Pruitt's former deputy chief of staff operations. The office is taking the matter "extremely seriously," Chmielewski said in an interview Monday.

Politico first reported that the probe was underway. Pruitt is facing more than a dozen federal inquiries into his spending and management decisions, including review of his first-class travels, installation of a $43,000 soundproof phone booth in his office and his $50-per-night condo rental from a Washington lobbyist.

Chmielewski, a Trump appointee who has said publicly that he was fired in February after questioning Pruitt's decision to routinely fly first-class and spend money on a range of security-related matters, said he spent at least six hours speaking to officials from the special counsel's office on Thursday. The office has assigned three attorneys to review claims that he and other EPA officials have made, Chmielewski added.

In April, Pruitt denied any retaliation during a pair of hearings on Capitol Hill, during which Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., alleged that "staff has been under attack during your tenure" and that "there's documented retaliation, as far as I'm concerned."

Pruitt has attributed many of the most controversial spending decisions at the agency to his aides and said the decision to travel first-class and receive round-the-clock protection stemmed from threats he has received as administrator. He responded to McCollum, "I would say to you unequivocally I know of no instance - I'm not aware of any instance that any employment action has been taken against someone for any advice or counsel they'd given with respect to spending."

Neither the Office of Special Counsel nor the EPA would comment on the matter Monday. OSC spokesman Zachary Kurz said in an email that the office "cannot comment on or confirm any open investigations," and EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in a separate email that "EPA does not comment on matters involving OSC."

The other agency officials who have either been reassigned or forced to leave the agency include former deputy chiefs of staff John Reeder and Reginald Allen; security agents John Martin and Eric Weese; and Mario Caraballo, deputy associate administrator of the EPA's Office of Homeland Security. Reeder is married to Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig.

Caraballo, who submitted a report questioning the grounds for the administrator's 24/7 security detail, was placed on administrative leave earlier this year and has since retired.

Chmielewski said that while Pruitt's top aides "thought they were going to pressure me into resigning" and compiled paperwork to that effect, he was actually fired.

"On February 12th, I was physically escorted from the building," he said. "They took everything from me, it was the definition of being fired."
Baltimore Sun, picking up a Washington Post story.

User avatar
VinnyD
Stew Ingredient
Posts: 62777
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:35 pm

Re: Do we need a sticky for Scott Pruitt scandals?

Post by VinnyD » Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:55 pm

Pruitt's approach during transition foreshadowed the kind of the behavior that has attracted scrutiny in recent months. According to a current and former EPA official, Pruitt routinely asked his assistants - including then-executive scheduler Sydney Hupp - to put hotel reservations on their personal credit cards rather than his own.

In one instance, according to former deputy chief of staff Kevin Chmielewski, Hupp was stuck with a bill of roughly $600 for a booking she had made for the administrator's family during the transition. Chmielewski said in an interview last month that he was in Jackson's office when Hupp approached Pruitt's chief of staff to explain that the period for transition reimbursements had expired and Pruitt had not covered the bill.
More.

Post Reply