Fired EPA Employee Details `Wasteful' Spending by Chief Pruitt

(Bloomberg) -- A former employee who objected to Scott Pruitt’s expenditures at the Environmental Protection Agency has “painted an extremely troubling picture” of wasteful spending, unethical behavior and “potentially illegal” actions by the agency’s administrator, said House and Senate Democrats.

The lawmakers on Thursday detailed their concerns in letters to Pruitt and President Donald Trump, following an interview with Kevin Chmielewski, the EPA’s former deputy chief of staff for operations, who said he was put on leave after refusing to retroactively approve first-class travel for one of Pruitt’s top aides.

Over eight pages, the lawmakers detail point-by-point how Chmielewski corroborated recent reports alleging questionable spending and actions at the EPA under Pruitt. The lawmakers said Chmielewski also provided new, troubling information about Pruitt’s $50-per-night rental of a bedroom in a Capitol Hill condominium from a lobbyist, his reliance on first-class travel, and a pattern of retaliating against employees who didn’t go along with the moves.

Among the concerns: Chmielewski said Pruitt’s pricey travel around the globe was frequently dictated by his desire to visit specific cities and countries, not by legitimate government business, and that EPA staff were then asked to find events to justify the trips, including frequent visits to the administrator’s home state of Oklahoma.

EPA representatives didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request seeking comment, but spokesman Jahan Wilcox previously described Chmielewski as being among “a group of disgruntled employees.”

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