Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—May 1, 2018
Contact: Lauren Lantry
Scott Pruitt lied to Congress about retaliating against EPA staff who tried to ensure his use of taxpayer dollars is transparent, accountable, and justified, according to an ABC News interview with a Trump loyalist forced out at EPA. This news comes as Pruitt’s top political appointees and aides – including the scandal-ridden security chief and the Superfund task force head who was banned from the banking industry – are fleeing the EPA. The details:
- Kevin Chmielewski, a former Trump campaign staffer who Trump has described as “a champ”, said he was “100 percent” forced out of his role as EPA deputy chief of staff after raising concerns about Pruitt’s spending of taxpayer dollars on first-class travel for himself and his aides, contrary to what Pruitt told Congress last week.
- According to Chmielewski, EPA chief of staff Ryan Jackson called him into his office saying that Pruitt wanted to fire him and put Millan Hupp – one of Pruitt’s aides from Oklahoma that received an exorbitant raise in spite of the White House’s opposition – in his place.
- ABC and the New York Times also report that Scott Pruitt’s scandal-ridden security chief Nino Perrotta threatened Chmielewski, demanding that he resign. While EPA claims Chmielewski resigned from his position, ABC reports his resignation form is unsigned and he was forced out a month before it was filed.
Meanwhile, Perrotta is reportedly leaving EPA amid pages of bad headlines and scandals. Perrotta – described as Pruitt’s “Sherriff” – reportedly encouraged Pruitt’s lavish spending of taxpayer dollars, including justifying his many first class flights, while his security firm also received an EPA contract that is currently the subject of numerous ethical concerns.
This isn’t the first incident of Pruitt retaliating against staff who are attempting to get him to follow ethics rules and the law. In early April, Politico reported that, in an attempt to cover up one of his many scandals, Scott Pruitt retaliated against and punished the career EPA staffer who approved the report Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Tom Carper referenced to demand a congressional inquiry into his around the clock security detail. The report details that the threats Pruitt has received don’t justify the 24/7 security protection he currently makes taxpayers cover. In addition, Perrotta replaced former EPA security chief Eric Weese who was reassigned after he told Pruitt sirens could only be used in emergency situations, not to make dinner reservations.
While Pruitt has attempted to blame EPA career staff for his scandals, Pruitt’s political appointees and key personal aides are departing after reportedly aiding Pruitt in his unethical behavior amid mounting investigations. Perrotta joins other former top Pruitt aides including raise recipient Samantha Dravis who fled right after news of Pruitt’s sweetheart condo deal broke, and Albert “Kell” Kelly who reportedly fled this morning, according to Axios. Kelly, a former banker banned by the FDIC for life with several shady ties to Pruitt’s past, was appointed by Pruitt to run the Superfund taskforce.
The White House must answer the following questions about the Pruitt scandals that continue to snowball:
- What does the President think about a Trump loyalist – someone who calls himself Trump’s “biggest fan” – being forced out at EPA for attempting to stop Scott Pruitt’s exorbitant spending of taxpayer dollars?
- Pruitt is blaming career staff for his scandals while his top political appointees are fleeing amid investigations into Pruitt’s behavior. Does the President support those whistleblowers who have attempted to hold government officials accountable or Pruitt’s personally chosen political aides who have been given raises while engaging in unethical behavior?
- Does the White House support Pruitt’s retaliation against staff who questioned his spending and ethical violations?
- Pruitt has now reportedly lied to Congress about retaliating against EPA staff and lied to Fox News about approving raises for his friends from Oklahoma in spite of the White House’s opposition to these raise – does the President think Scott Pruitt should be held accountable for those lies? Does the President feel that Scott Pruitt lied to him?
- How much longer is President Trump willing to defend Scott Pruitt and his lies?
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.
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