Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has received a slew of negative publicity in recent weeks amid accusations of abuse of power and several senior-level resignations. Several people within the agency have characterized those departures as staffers abandoning a sinking ship.
The first departure came several weeks when a close friend of Pruitt’s, Albert Kelly, who was hired when Pruitt became administrator, announced his resignation. Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill began looking into Kelly’s background in December when it was revealed he had been banned for life from working in the banking sector. There were also reports that Kelly helped Pruitt get financing for a mortgage as well as buy a minor league baseball team.
House members asked the EPA’s inspector general to look into Kelly’s actions. Kelly would resign week after the request. Inspector generals cannot force individuals to cooperate with an investigation once they leave government.
That was followed by the resignation of Pasquale Perrotta, the head of Pruitt’s security detail. Perrotta stepped down the day before he was set to testify before the House Oversight Committee. Perrotta was being looked into over reports he used his position to influence EPA security contracts.
Kevin Chmielewski, a former EPA employee, also told lawmakers in April that Perrotta began treating him with hostility when he questioned Pruitt’s travel expenses. According to Chmielewski, he returned from a business trip to Japan to find his office had been locked and his credentials revoked. He also claimed Perrotta called him, demanding he return his parking pass and threatening to go to Chmielewski’s home to take it by force if he didn’t.
Soon after that, the number two official in the press office, John Konkus, resigned. Konkus had been implicated as being the EPA official charged with preventing any initiative conflicting with the Trump administration’s deregulatory goals from receiving EPA grants.
Early last month, it was revealed that Pruitt had crossed White House demands and given two political staffers from his time as Oklahoma’s Attorney General large raises by exploiting an obscure EPA rule.
Pruitt’s travel habits, flying first class because of security concerns, have also received intense scrutiny in recent weeks.
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