GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy expanded a probe into Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s spending and ethics Friday, demanding interviews with five top aides.
Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, ramped up pressure on Pruitt after the EPA “failed to produce all of the documents requested” by Gowdy in February. The chairman sent staff to the EPA April 10 to review documents the EPA has not yet released to Congress.
Gowdy sent a letter to the EPA Friday, requesting times to interview Pruitt’s Chief of Staff, Ryan Jackson, former-Deputy Chief of Staff Kevin Chmielewski, head of security Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta, and advisers Millan Hupp and Sarah Greenwalt.
Pruitt’s office gave substantial raises to Greenwalt and Hupp, using authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act allowing the EPA administrator to hire 30 employees without Congressional or White House approval and giving flexibility to set their pay. The raises were given after the White House rejected a petition to award them. Jackson approved the raises without Pruitt’s approval, according to Jackson and Pruitt.
EPA sources talking to The New York Times allege Pruitt ousted Chmielewski from deputy chief of staff after Chmielewski questioned Pruitt’s spending habits.
Pruitt is the first EPA administrator to require around-the-clock security after receiving serious death threats that required in-depth investigations. So far, his detail has cost around $3 million including overtime pay and travel expenses all approved by Perrotta, according to The Associate Press.