House Democrats, fed up with Scott Pruitt’s seemingly endless stream of questionable ethical behavior, are seeking to take the investigation against him to a new level – to the FBI and Department of Justice.
The request was sparked by recent reports that the EPA administrator has been using his staff to run personal errands, including finding his wife a job, hunting for a Washington apartment and picking up snacks, dry cleaning and hand lotion.
“At the very least, we know that federal ethics laws bar public officials from using their position or staff for private gain. Administrator Pruitt has certainly done just that,” wrote Rep. Don Beyer in a letter to the FBI and Justice Department, which requests an investigation into Pruitt. “Administrator Pruitt directly, and admittedly, used EPA resources to attempt to secure a job for his wife.”
EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox referred CNN’s request for comment to Pruitt’s outside counsel.
In some cases, Pruitt used his unprecedented around-the-clock security staff to do personal favors. Pruitt has 19 protection officers on his staff, costing taxpayers $3.5 million over the past year, but his justification that it’s because of death threats has come under intense scrutiny, and reports that they were used to do things like ferry him around for specific kinds of moisturizer are creating a buzz on Capitol Hill.
Federal law prohibits people in public office from using their positions for personal gain.
In the last week, emails uncovered by the Sierra Club show that one of Pruitt’s aides tried to set up a meeting with the CEO of Chick-fil-A, and Pruitt later confirmed it was to help his wife who was interested in opening a franchise.
Pruitt also, as The Washington Post first reported, approached Matthew Swift, the chief executive of Concordia, a New York nonprofit, using EPA resources, and got his wife a $2,000 gig to help with logistics for the group’s annual conference, where Pruitt was a speaker, Beyer wrote. He wants the FBI to look into whether Pruitt’s EPA did any favors for Concordia.
In addition, Beyer is asking the FBI to look at the condo deal Pruitt made with a lobbyist’s wife, securing a $50-per-night below-market-rate room for himself while in Washington.
“Despite Pruitt’s testimony to the contrary before Congress, documents from the firm of Pruitt’s lobbyist-landlord showed that he lobbied the EPA several times on behalf of clients. Companies represented by the firm of Pruitt’s landlord also benefitted from EPA decisions during Pruitt’s stay in the townhouse – the extent of which we still do not fully know,” Beyer wrote, adding that “his actions related to his wife’s employment and the quid-pro-quo condo situation with industry lobbyists may have crossed a line into criminal conduct punishable by fines or even by time in prison.”