New EPA Chief Is Already Facing 2 Ethical Problems In His First Week, Echoing Scott Pruitt

Andrew Wheeler solely took over the Environmental Protection Agency 4 days in the past, however the brand new performing administrator is already going through moral issues involving two of his high aides.

On Friday, a high Democrat demanded that the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform situation a subpoena forcing the EPA to supply paperwork associated to ousted Administrator Scott Pruitt’s efforts to delay the discharge of public information. The name got here after newly launched congressional testimony revealed that Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson redirected Freedom of Information Act requests deemed “politically charged” or delicate to political appointees.

Just two days earlier, Wheeler promoted Henry Darwin, the EPA’s chief of operations, to function performing deputy administrator, making him the company’s new No. 2 govt. The transfer drew swift criticism after emails cited by ABC News confirmed Darwin requested an company job for his spouse, Veronica Darwin, whereas negotiating the wage for his earlier place final 12 months. She in the end obtained a job on the company.

Pruitt, who resigned in shame final week amid heaps of moral scandals, took warmth for utilizing his workplace to acquire jobs for his spouse, Marlyn Pruitt.

“When it comes to Scott Pruitt’s EPA, it’s become very clear that he viewed the agency as a source of favor for his family and friends,” stated Jordan Libowitz, spokesman for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan watchdog group. “The tone was set at the top. It’s not surprising it extended to his deputies.”

In a press release to HuffPost, the EPA defended each aides. The company stated it responded to a document variety of FOIA requests and accused the Democrats of “selectively releasing parts of the transcript” to color an “incomplete and inaccurate narrative.”

EPA spokesman Michael Abboud touted Veronica Darwin’s almost 20 years of expertise “working extensively on environmental waste issues.”

“As EPA was looking to bolster its Superfund program and [Office of Land and Emergency Management] team, Ms. Darwin was an ideal fit for her current role,” he stated.


Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned in shame final week. 

Unlike Pruitt, who had by no means labored outdoors Oklahoma politics earlier than taking on the company, Wheeler has spent a long time in Washington, together with 4 years as an EPA staffer below presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Far from zeroing in on the EPA’s financial obligations, as Pruitt steadily did, Wheeler has made statements like, “I’ve always considered myself to be an environmentalist.” 

On Tuesday, the day after Wheeler took over, Jahan Wilcox, a controversial EPA spokesman and Pruitt loyalist whose hostility towards reporters made him infamous, left the company. The subsequent day, in an obvious bid to made good on guarantees for extra transparency, Wheeler invited droves of reporters to cowl his first tackle to company staff. In the speech, he took pains to mission empathy for staffers at an EPA in flux: “I want you to know I understand how stressful that can be.”

Yet Wheeler additionally recycled a line Pruitt used in his inaugural February 2017 tackle: “You can’t lead unless you listen.”

“The tradition of corruption doesn’t disappear with Pruitt leaving,” stated Liz Purchia, a former EPA spokeswoman. “It was normalized.”

To critics, Wheeler’s determination to maintain Jackson as chief of workers and elevate Darwin point out how little the brand new performing administrator plans to appropriate the company’s course within the wake of Pruitt’s departure.

“Wheeler is adding to the pile of ethics questions that he faces by working hand-in-glove with the scandal-marred aides who helped he and Pruitt do the dirty work of corporate polluters,” stated Maura Cowley, director of Sierra Club’s Resist Campaign. “It is clear that no one should have any confidence that Wheeler will do what is necessary to keep our families safe from the corporate polluters who signed his paychecks just months ago.”

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