The Environmental Protection Agency's chief administrator, Scott Pruitt, continues to face pressure related to allegations of misconduct. The most recent developments in the situation came in early July when the federal environmental regulator's top watchdog called for investigations into alleged ethics violations. The request, from Kevin Minoli, the agency's chief ethics officer, made the request in writing to the Office of Government Ethics, The Hill reported. The letter cited a mix of internal reports from EPA staff about Pruitt's actions and stories from the media that brought light to other issues.
"Scott Pruitt continues to face pressure related to allegations of misconduct."
Among other issues, Minoli cited the rental agreement between the EPA's top official and the spouse of a lobbyist for a condo in the Washington, D.C. area. Although Minoli had originally given the rental his approval, other information has changed his position on the issue. The discovery that Pruitt paid significantly less than the established market rate for a such a property in the nation's capital was part of the reversal. The New York Times pointed out Pruitt rented the condo from the wife of J. Steven Hart as Hart actively lobbied the EPA chief.
"Consistent with my obligations under Office of Government Ethics regulations, I have referred a number of those matters to EPA's Inspector General and have provided 'ready and active assistance' to the Inspector General and his office," Minoli's letter, which the Times obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, said. "To the best of my knowledge, all of the matters that I have referred are either under consideration for acceptance or under active investigation."
The Times also noted that the letter didn't mention the specifics of the incidents or issues that Minoli believes require further investigation.
These issues are a major source of headlines and could eventually lead to serious action against Pruitt, although there's no clear-cut indication of any immediate decisions. In the meantime, the EPA remains under a dark cloud of sorts that doesn't help its staff members go about their daily duties or address any pertinent regulatory issues. The agency has faced increased scrutiny as a whole since Pruitt took its top position, and it appears those issues won't be resolved anytime soon.
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