Politics EPA Chief of Staff Approved Raises for Aides, Report Finds

23:07  16 april  2018
23:07  16 april  2018 Source:   bloomberg.com

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The Post cites two EPA officials and one White House official who say that Pruitt instructed his staff members to approve the raises for two aides who had He instead reappointed the aides through a provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act, which lets the EPA chief hire up to 30 people without having

The Environmental Protection Agency 's chief of staff said on Monday night that he, and not his boss, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, was responsible for substantial raises that were given to two top aides .

Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), stands for a photograph after an interview in his office at the EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017.: EPA Chief of Staff Approved Raises for Top Aides, Report Finds © Bloomberg/Bloomberg EPA Chief of Staff Approved Raises for Top Aides, Report Finds

(Bloomberg) -- EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s chief of staff signed off on controversial raises for employees that were worth as much as 72 percent, according to the agency’s internal watchdog.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general released documents Monday showing Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson authorized three of those salary increases using an obscure provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

That buttresses Jackson’s assertion last week that he, not Pruitt, was responsible for the raises -- and that the EPA administrator had no knowledge of the amount of the increases nor the method by which they came about. In authorizing the raises, the EPA effectively overruled White House officials who had objected to at least two of the salary increases.

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Last Tuesday, The Atlantic reported that Pruitt used an obscure EPA rule to give two close aides The White House, the source said, declined to approve the raises . After Pruitt's request was Politico reports that Trump's chief of staff John Kelly has been considering whether or not to fire Pruitt over

Bleeding Out The EPA . In early March, Pruitt approached the White House so he could secure substantial pay raises for two of his closest aides : Millan Hupp and Sarah Greenwalt. The incident has supposedly circulated throughout the agency , enraging some of the staff , who were upset that

Pruitt asserted that he did not authorize two of the raises and did not know who did in a Fox News interview earlier this month. "It should not have been done," Pruitt said in the interview that aired April 4. "There will be some accountability."

Related: EPA Chief’s $43,000 Secure Phone Found to Break Spending Laws

The documents released Monday were included in a so-called "management alert" tied to the inspector general’s ongoing probe of how the EPA has used its special hiring authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act to fill "administratively determined" positions.

Under that law, the EPA administrator has the authority to fill as many as 30 scientific, engineering, professional, legal or administrative positions without undergoing the customary civil service hiring process. The approach, which enables an EPA administrator to swiftly bring on staff, also has been used by Pruitt’s predecessors.

Pruitt's chief of staff takes responsibility for controversial raises

  Pruitt's chief of staff takes responsibility for controversial raises <p>Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt’s chief of staff said he is responsible for giving two top aides big raises after the White House rejected the request.</p>Ryan Jackson said the move to use a special authority was all his, and Pruitt had nothing to do with it.

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt last month instructed his staff to give hefty pay raises to two top aides , the Washington Post reported late Thursday. That contradicts what Pruitt said Wednesday, when he said in an interview he just found out about the raises the day before.

The Atlantic reported Monday that EPA staffers are aware of an email between one of the aides and human resources in which she stated that Pruitt was aware of and supported her raise . EPA chief of staff Ryan Jackson said in a statement to The Atlantic that Pruitt had no knowledge of the raises and

The inspector general did not make any judgment about the appropriateness of the actions or say whether Pruitt knew about the raises. The alert "does not present any conclusions or recommendations," Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins Jr. said in a memo on the ongoing audit.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said the agency welcomed the review and was cooperating with inquiries into its hiring practices.

Read More: Republicans Ask Pruitt for Documents, Interviews With Top Aides

"Salary determinations for appointees are made by EPA’s chief of staff, White House liaison and career human resources officials," with an eye on avoiding disparities, Wilcox said in an emailed statement. "Salaries are based on work history, and, any increases are due to either new and additional responsibilities or promotions."

Completed personnel forms contained in the inspector general’s alert show that Jackson signed off on the salary increases in two places: both under "action requested by Ryan T. Jackson, chief of staff" and under "action authorized by E. Scott Pruitt, administrator." In the second, authorization box, Jackson signed "Ryan Jackson for Scott Pruitt."

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Pruitt also chose to fly on an airline not on the government’s approved list All so he could accrue more frequent flier miles. investigators. Chmielewski served as the EPA ’s deputy chief of staff . He was fired for raising alarm over Pruitt’s spending.

EPA chief of staff Ryan Jackson is taking responsibility for controversial raises given to two of Administrator Scott Pruitt's top aides . Pruitt has been under fire over a report in The Atlantic last week that he used special hiring authority to give hefty pay increases to two political appointees who joined

Pruitt did sign off on the initial decision to hire the three aides, according to included forms. The inspector general’s alert does not name the staff members. Based on information contained in the documents and other details, they are believed to be Director of Scheduling and Advance Millan Hupp, Senior Counsel Sarah Greenwalt and Samantha Dravis, a former associate administrator of the EPA Office of Policy who said she was leaving the agency earlier this month.

Hupp and Greenwalt both worked for Pruitt when he was Oklahoma’s attorney general. And Dravis came to the EPA after serving with Pruitt as general counsel of the Republican Attorneys General Association.

One of the employees secured two successive raises amounting to a 67.6 percent increase -- worth $66,244. A second aide ended up with $114,590, after two raises worth 72.3 percent overall. A third raise for one of the employees Pruitt personally hired was modest by comparison: a 1.6 percent increase that brought that person’s salary to $151,700.

The raises have now been reversed and future salary change requests will be submitted through the Office of Presidential Personnel for evaluation, Jackson said in a written statement last week.

Ex-Trump aide on leave after questioning Pruitt's spending

  Ex-Trump aide on leave after questioning Pruitt's spending A high-ranking political staffer at the Environmental Protection Agency has told lawmakers he faced retaliation after pushing back against outsized spending demands from Administrator Scott Pruitt and his top aides. House and Senate Democrats sent letters Thursday to President Donald Trump and Pruitt describing a meeting they had with Kevin Chmielewski, who was recently placed on involuntary, unpaid leave from his positon as EPA's deputy chief of staff for operations. Chmielewski is a Republican who served as a key staffer for the Trump campaign before being hired at EPA last year to help oversee spending at the agency.

“Administrator Pruitt had zero knowledge of the amount of the raises .”. 0. 0. Continue Reading - Via politico.com.

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA ) who has been beleaguered by skeptics over his -a-night rental White House Chief of Staff John KellyPresident TrumpScott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittPruitt directed staff to approve raises for top aides : report Dem Rep: Pruitt

Separately, the EPA defended its decision to install a soundproof privacy booth in Pruitt’s office at a cost of $43,238, in a letter to the Government Accountability Office obtained by Bloomberg News.

The expenditure did not run afoul of law requiring congressional notification for expenditures of more than $5,000 for improvements to an agency head’s office because it was needed for official agency business, Kevin Minoli, the EPA’s principal deputy general counsel, wrote in a March 23 letter to the GAO.

A former EPA employee told lawmakers Pruitt surpassed the $5,000 budget he was given to redecorate his office by purchasing an additional standing desk, paying to rent art from the Smithsonian Institution and framing an 8-by-10-foot American flag. Some security-related spending on Pruitt’s office, including the installation of biometric locks, was considered outside the $5,000 limitation, according to emails released to the watchdog group American Oversight under an open records request.

(Updates with report release, content starting in second paragraph.)

To contact the reporters on this story: Ari Natter in Washington at anatter5@bloomberg.net, Jennifer A. Dlouhy in Washington at jdlouhy1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net, Elizabeth Wasserman

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

Pruitt admits knowing about controversial raise, despite past denial .
Embattled EPA Director Scott Pruitt acknowledged in congressional testimony Thursday that he was aware of at least one of two controversial pay raises for members of his staff -- despite downplaying his knowledge of the move in a recent Fox News interview.  When asked by Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Ill., about the pay raises and conflicting accounts, Pruitt responded, “I was aware ... one of those individuals was receiving a raise.” Pruitt, testifying before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, said he had delegated authority for the raises.

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