- EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said his deal for a $50 per night condo in Washington, DC was not a breach of ethics.
- Pruitt also addressed the report detailing how an official went around the White House to give two staffers salary increases, denying knowledge of the deal.
In a tense interview with Fox News, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt addressed the recent scandals plaguing his office, brushing aside criticisms that he improperly rented a condo in Washington, DC.
“This was like an Airbnb situation,” Pruitt said. “When I was not there, the landlord, they had access to the entirety of the facility. When I was there, I only had access to a room.”
Pruitt had been renting a condo co-owned by the wife of a connected lobbyist in the fossil fuels industry while serving as head of the EPA. In addition, the Daily Beast reported that the landlord of the condo had donated to Pruitt’s campaign for Oklahoma attorney general in 2010.
Pruitt also addressed a recent report from The Atlantic detailing how an official under his watch at the EPA went around the White House to give significant pay raises to two EPA employees.
When Pruitt asked the White House to give increased pay to two of his aides, the request was denied. Another official at the EPA then used an obscure provision in the Safe Drinking Water Act to bypass the White House and give the two aides bumps in their salary.
“So, hang on. Both of these staffers who got these large pay raises are friends of yours. I believe from Oklahoma right?” Fox News reporter Ed Henry asked Pruitt.
Pruitt said that “they are staffers here in the agency” and “they serve a very important purpose.”
When Henry pressed Pruitt as to whether he was aware of the salary increases, the EPA administrator said he “did not know that they got pay raises until yesterday.”
“My staff and I found out about it yesterday and I changed it,” Pruitt added. “I found out this yesterday and I corrected the action and we are in the process of finding out how it took place and correcting it.”