Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt had one of his top aides contact several Republican donors from EPA offices last year. The purpose of the contacts was to solicit the donors to find his wife Marlyn a job in Washington, DC. Eventually he was successful in getting her a position at a conservative political group, according to the Washington Post.
The job hunt involved Pruitt’s staff members approaching prominent Republican Party supporters, many with close ties to the Trump administration. He primarily used Samantha Dravis, associate administrator for the EPA’s Office of Policy, to try to find work for his wife.
After Doug Deason, a prominent donor, said he was not able to hire Marlyn Pruitt because of a conflict of interest, Pruitt continued to solicit his help in trying to find other job opportunities for her.
A spokesman for the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) that has backed Pruitt for years confirmed Tuesday that their organization did employ the former school nurse “temporarily as an independent contractor.” The group did not disclose, however, how long she had worked there nor how much she was paid.
The position for Mrs. Pruitt appeared after they received her résumé from Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society, which has financial ties with JCN. Mr. Leo was also involved in arrangements for the administrator’s controversial visit to Italy last year where taxpayers were charged over $100,000 for the trip, including tours of the Vatican City and dining at Rome’s finest restaurants.
The job search for Mrs. Pruitt, and her hiring by FCN, raises even more ethical questions about Scott Pruitt and his improper use of EPA staff. It also raises questions about improper contacts with contributors and allies for his personal financial benefit.
Ethics rules of for federal employees prohibit them from using government positions for private gain and also from receiving free services or other gifts.
Virginia Canter, an ethics counsel for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) told the Post that an EPA employee “acting as the headhunter for Pruitt’s spouse was “highly inappropriate” because the entire process “would affect his financial interests.”
“It’s above and beyond anything I’m aware of, with respect to any government employee,” Canter said.
These include his frequent first-class travels, his sweetheart rental of a $50-a-night condo from a lobbyist with business before the EPA, and his installation of a $43,000 soundproof phone booth in his office.
According to the Post, Pruitt did not ever seek advice from an EPA ethics officials about his use of EPA staff for several months to get his wife a job. This is not surprising because if he had, there is no doubt that they would have told him that most of his actions were in fact not ethical.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.