Another Top EPA Official Exits as Scrutiny of Pruitt Deepens

(Bloomberg) -- A third top EPA official is leaving the agency amid intensifying scrutiny of Administrator Scott Pruitt’s travel, spending and condo rental.

Associate Administrator Liz Bowman, the top public affairs official at the Environmental Protection Agency, is leaving to become a spokeswoman for Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican from Iowa.

Bowman’s departure follows two others just this week: the exit of Albert “Kell” Kelly, the top EPA adviser on Superfund cleanups, and former Secret Service agent Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta, who led Pruitt’s security detail. Longtime Pruitt ally Samantha Dravis announced her resignation last month.

The exodus comes amid steep criticism of Pruitt -- including calls by at least 170 Democratic lawmakers and four Republicans for his ouster. There are at least 10 formal investigations into Pruitt, including probes of his rental of a Capitol Hill bedroom from a lobbyist for $50 a night under unusually generous terms, frequent taxpayer-funded travel to his home state of Oklahoma, questionable spending decisions at the EPA and raises for two top aides over White House objections.

Lawmakers also want to know more about Pruitt’s four-day trip to Morocco in December, amid revelations that a lobbyist helped orchestrate the expedition -- and then made a deal to formally represent the African country in the U.S.

As the associate administrator for public affairs, Bowman has been on the front lines of the EPA’s sometimes rocky relations with the news media, and at times she delivered sharp critiques of reporters covering the agency. Bowman also was tasked with making strategic communications decisions and coordinating EPA responses to the deluge of damaging revelations against Pruitt that began in late March.

Bowman is one of several political appointees who arrived at the EPA from the American Chemistry Council, a trade group representing Dow Chemical Co., BASF SE and Monsanto Co.

Bowman said she was leaving the EPA “extremely thankful for the opportunity to serve the Trump administration and Administrator Pruitt.”

“Being a member of the EPA team has allowed me to further my skills, learn from my mistakes and make lifelong friendships,” Bowman said. “It has also provided me the opportunity to develop a new, and deep, respect for the public servants who serve the American people, day in and day out, to ensure that we all have access to clean air, land, and water.”

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