Kildee calls for departure of EPA’s Pruitt
Washington — U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee is calling on the embattled chief of the Environmental Protection Agency to either resign or be fired by President Donald Trump.
The Democratic lawmaker, whose district includes Flint, said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt “ought to go” after reports that his agency using a 1977 loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act to grant substantial raises to two aides after the White House had refused the requests.
“I know something about what the Safe Drinking Water Act is supposed to be used for — to hire scientists and health professionals to go into places like my hometown of Flint to bring resources and expertise to help deal with problems with drinking water,” Kildee said on MSNBC.
“And not to add, basically, bonuses to the payroll of top people he brings in who are essentially his political friends and allies. This is really frustrating.”
The Safe Drinking Water Act includes an emergency-hiring provision authorizing the EPA administrator to bring on personnel without White House approval — initially intended for a quick response in times of crisis, according to reports.
Pruitt on Wednesday told Fox News that he didn’t approve the raises and doesn’t know who did.
“I did not. My staff did, and I found out about it yesterday and I changed it,” Pruitt said, adding that there would be “some accountability” on it.
Pruitt has also come under scrutiny amid revelations about other potential ethical violations, including his renting a $50-a-night Capitol Hill condominium linked to an energy-industry lobbyist who had business before the EPA.
CNN reported that EPA ethics lawyer Kevin Minoli on Wednesday said he didn’t have the full facts when he issued a finding that Pruitt was paying fair-market value, having assumed Pruitt occupied only one bedroom for about $1,000 a month.
Media reports later indicated that Pruitt’s daughter also stayed at the condo while she interned last year at the White House.
The White House on Wednesday said Trump “is not” OK with Pruitt’s former condo arrangement. “We’re currently reviewing that here at the White House,” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a briefing.
Asked whether Trump has confidence in Pruitt, Sanders did not defend the EPA administrator’s actions.
“The president thinks that he’s done a good job, particularly on the deregulation front. But again, we take this seriously, and we’re looking into it, and we’ll let you know when we finish,” Sanders said.
On MSNBC, Kildee criticized Republicans’ willingness to look past ethical lapses “because they like what (Pruitt) is doing.”
“He’s putting profits ahead of public health, and it’s the same philosophy that led to the Flint water crisis,” Kildee said.
Kildee joins Florida Republican Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in calling for the former Oklahoma attorney general to resign or be dismissed.
The EPA’s Office of Inspector General said last year it is looking into Pruitt’s frequent taxpayer-funded travel on military and charter flights.