EPA Chief's Ally Leaving Agency as Ethics Questions Mount

(Bloomberg) -- A longtime ally of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has resigned amid mounting ethical questions surrounding the agency’s chief.

Samantha Dravis left her role as an associate administrator of the EPA Office of Policy while Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general, faces scrutiny for his unorthodox rental of a bedroom from a lobbyist last year, and for having boosted the salaries of two aides over the objections of the White House.

“After serving for over a year as EPA’s head of policy, Samantha Dravis has decided to pursue other opportunities,” EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said in an emailed statement. “She has been integral in the agency’s successful implementation of the president’s environmental agenda and the agency wishes her success in her future endeavors.”

Dravis came to the EPA after serving with Pruitt as general counsel of the Republican Attorneys General Association. At the EPA, she helped revive a program for seeking regulatory advice from miners, oil companies, and manufacturers.

Although the move coincides with the swirl of ethical questions surrounding Pruitt, Dravis’ departure is unrelated, said two people who know her and asked not to be identified. She had been seeking a new position for several months, one of the people said.

Condo Rental

EPA Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson, who previously served Oklahoma Republican Senator James Inhofe in a similar role, also has considered quitting out of frustration in recent months, said three people familiar with his thinking.

In an emailed statement, the EPA said that account “is not accurate.”

Pruitt is under fire for renting a bedroom in a Capitol Hill condominium from a lobbyist under unusually agreeable terms that permitted him to pay $50 a night, only on the nights he stayed there. The administrator also has drawn fresh scrutiny for reports that he used an obscure law to grant large raises to two close advisers, even after the White House objected to boosting their salaries.

Pruitt told Fox News on Wednesday he didn’t know about the raises until Tuesday. “I corrected the action and we are in the process of finding out how it took place and correcting it,” he said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.