A top Environmental Protection Agency aide with deep ties to the White House has resigned amid ongoing ethics turmoil surrounding the agency’s administrator.
Samantha Dravis, the associate administrator of the EPA’s office of policy and a longtime associate of EPA head Scott Pruitt, abruptly resigned last week, according to reports on Thursday.
Her sudden departure comes as Pruitt faces a slew of possible ethics violations, including the $50 per night rental of a condo owned by the wife of a lobbyist, extravagant flight, travel and security costs, and large raises awarded to two top aides.
“It has been an honor to serve in this role at EPA, and I am enormously grateful for the opportunity. I wish Administrator Pruitt and all of the public servants at EPA the very best,” she said in a statement.
Dravis was already tied to an earlier Trump administration controversy that unfolded earlier this year.
She is reportedly the ex-girlfriend of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter.
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The 34-year-old contacted White House Counsel Don McGahn about abuse allegations made by Porter’s ex-wives, according to reports.
Porter was fired from the West Wing and White House security clearances were revamped in the wake of the scandal.
Politico first reported that Dravis submitted her resignation in order to work in the private sector, and the Washington Post reported that she was not leaving the agency because of ethical concerns.
Previously, Dravis worked closely with Pruitt as the president of the Rule of Law Defense Fund, a public policy organization affiliated with the Republican Attorneys General Association.
Her job included connecting energy companies and Republican attorneys general to file lawsuits against the federal government over Obama-era environmental regulations. The group has called for the repeal of clean water protections and the easing of restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions.
She also served as associate director of political affairs for the White House during the George W. Bush administration.
Dravis also worked at the Koch brothers-funded Freedom Partners and on the presidential campaigns of Republicans Mitt Romney and John McCain.
Her appointment last year riled environmental groups.
“The EPA is tasked with the critical mission of protecting the air we breath and the water we drink, but instead of employing experts, Administrator Pruitt has filled the top ranks of the agency with lobbyists and political cronies,” Austin Evers, American Oversight’s executive director, said in a statement last year.
Pruitt, meanwhile, has tried to defend himself against allegations of improper spending and close connections with lobbyists and denied knowledge of hefty raises for a pair of aides who worked for him when he was attorney general in Oklahoma.
The EPA’s top ethics official who initially defended Pruitt’s sweetheart condo deal — rented from the wife of a fossil fuel lobbyist — said he didn’t have all the facts when he issued his statement last week.
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Kevin Minoli, a career EPA employee, wrote in an ethics opinion that Pruitt’s lease — $50 per day he slept there, renting from the wife of a lobbyist with energy industry clients — complied with federal ethics rules.
But in a new memo on Wednesday, Minoli clarified that his comments were based on the assumption that Pruitt followed the terms of the lease.
“Some have raised questions whether the actual use of the space was consistent with the terms of the lease. Evaluating those questions would have required factual information that was not before us and the Review does not address those questions,” Minoli wrote in the memo, obtained by the Campaign Legal Center and first reported by CNN.