EPA chief Scott Pruitt tapped top aide to secure his wife a job with conservative group
Embattled Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt tapped a top aide last year in an effort to get his wife a job at a conservative political group, according to a report Wednesday.
Pruitt, already the subject of more than a dozen federal inquiries into his spending habits, possible ethics violations, abuses of power and mismanagement of the EPA, enlisted longtime aide Samantha Dravis to find work for his wife, the Washington Post reported.
Government officials can't use their public office for personal gain or to benefit family members, according to federal law. If Pruitt told his aides to do personal favors for him or his family on government time it could be a federal violation.
The report comes a week after similar stories emerged that Pruitt asked an aide to set up a meeting with fast-food chain Chick-fil-A to discuss a possible franchise for his spouse.
Virginia Canter, executive branch ethics counsel for the public watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told the newspaper that Pruitt’s having a full-time EPA employee “become the headhunter for his spouse” was “highly inappropriate” since the outcome of the search “would affect his financial interests.”
Dravis recently left the EPA amid her own ethics imbroglio.
The agency’s inspector general announced in April that he was reviewing Dravis’ employment records after questions arose about whether she showed up for her six-figure-a-year job during an extended period around the end of last year.
The 34-year-old is the ex-girlfriend of former White house staff secretary Rob Porter, who left the Trump administration after allegations that he abused his two ex-wives became public.
Pruitt has also reportedly asked aides to help him look for an apartment, shop for a mattress and other personal tasks including acquiring Ritz-Carlton moisturizing cream.
Regarding his wife, Pruitt also personally petitioned corporate executives and top Republicans whom he knew through his days as Oklahoma attorney general or whom he met since joining President Trump’s Cabinet in an effort to find his wife a job, according to the Washington Post.
Pruitt’s wife, Marlyn Pruitt, worked as a school nurse before staying home to raise the couple’s two children.
She was hired last year, “temporarily as an independent contractor,” by the Judicial Crisis Network on the recommendation of longtime Pruitt donor Leonard Leo, the executive vice president of the conservative Federalist Society, a spokesman told The Post.
“It’s above and beyond anything I’m aware of, with respect to any government employee,” Canter said, noting that Leo accompanied Pruitt on a trip to Italy last year.
Pruitt has faced growing criticism and calls for his resignation as the list of questionable ethics and outrageous spending grows.
In March, reports surfaced that Pruitt had been living in a condo owned by the wife of a prominent energy lobbyist for a discounted rate. In the following weeks, it was revealed that he had spent millions in taxpayer funds on first-class travel accomodations, security and a host of extravagant office upgrades.
Pruitt requested a secure $43,000 soundproof phone booth be installed in his office, along with biometric locks.
Last week, Trump continued to back his embattled EPA head and offered kind words for Pruitt.
"Administrator Scott Pruitt, thank you. EPA is doing really well. You know, somebody has to say that about you a little bit, you know that Scott, but I tell you the EPA is doing so well," Trump said during a briefing at FEMA headquarters.