A former aide to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt recently told congressional investigators that she was asked to help her boss’s wife find a job with a six-figure salary, according to multiple media reports on Monday.
The revelation constitutes the latest in a long string of reports accusing Pruitt of using his political office for personal gain and came shortly before a CNN report claimed he has employed cover-up strategies.
Samantha Dravis, the EPA’s former associate administrator for its Office of Policy, spoke recently with a congressional committee about her work for Pruitt, according to accounts of the interview first reported by The Washington Post. Dravis reportedly said that Pruitt asked her to reach out to the Republican Attorneys General Association, a group Pruitt chaired for two terms while he served as Oklahoma Attorney General, to inquire about a fundraising job he hoped would pay his wife $200,000 or more a year.
Dravis said she declined his request, saying she was worried the call would violate the Hatch Act and that she wanted to avoid potential conflicts of interest. The New York Times also reported the contents of Dravis’ congressional interview on Monday, citing people familiar with her account.
Pruitt’s wife did eventually land a job ― with Dravis’ support ― at the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, which told the Post her salary was under six figures and that she worked only as an independent contractor until earlier this year.
Citing internal EPA documents, CNN reported Tuesday that Pruitt has attempted to keep under wraps certain meetings and calls that may “look bad” for him by asking aides to keep “secret” calendars and schedules.
Some of the events scrubbed from Pruitt’s public calendar involved meetings with executives and attorneys employed in industries his agency regulates. Similarly, a dinner with a climate-denying Vatican cardinal did not appear on the EPA chief’s official calendar.
An ongoing saga of related scandals has plagued Pruitt’s tenure. Last month, the Times reported that another former aide, Sydney Hupp, was tasked with finding a “business opportunity” for Pruitt’s wife to open a Chick-fil-A franchise. Hupp was also told to look into purchasing “an old mattress” for Pruitt from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., a request she said was unrelated to EPA business.
Monday’s reports also include details about Pruitt’s frequent use of first-class travel. Dravis and another Pruitt aide, current chief of staff Ryan Jackson, told investigators that the agency chief often insisted he travel in premium cabins, even as they both expressed concerns about the bookings. Pruitt has repeatedly said his security detail made the determinations to book him in first- and business-class seats.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is currently investigating Pruitt’s management of the EPA and his spending habits, including his use of premium cabins while traveling and the details surrounding a sweetheart condo rental from the wife of an energy lobbyist. The inquiry is one of 13 federal investigations into the administrator.
Kevin Minoli, the chief ethics officer for the EPA, recently wrote to the Office of Government Ethics to ask for a separate series of independent investigations into Pruitt.
This article has been updated to include information about Pruitt contained in a new CNN report.