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Embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt resigns as pressure mounts

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The EPA inspector general is looking into embattled Administrator Scott Pruitt's $50-per-night apartment rental, travel expenses, security team, controversial raises for staff, use of subordinates' time and staff reassignments that some have said were retribution.

WASHINGTON DC —  President Donald Trump said Trump he has accepted the resignation of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.

“I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this. The Senate confirmed Deputy at EPA, Andrew Wheeler, will on Monday assume duties as the acting Administrator of the EPA. I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda. We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright!” Trump tweeted Thursday.

Deputy Administrator at EPA, Andrew Wheeler will take over on Monday.

Earlier in the day,  the Environmental Protection Agency’s chief ethics official said he was pushing for a series of independent investigations into Scott Pruitt’s actions as administrator of the federal agency.

In a letter to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, EPA ethics official Kevin Minoli writes that “potential issues” regarding Pruitt have surfaced through sources within the EPA and media reports since April.

Minoli writes that he has referred “a number” of those matters to the EPA’s inspector general. He says all are either under consideration for acceptance or under active investigation.

Minoli’s letter, first reported Saturday by The New York Times after the newspaper received a copy of the letter through a Freedom of Information request, doesn’t specify the issues referred for investigation.

News media have reported Pruitt’s rental of a condo from a lobbyist’s spouse, his use of staff to handle personal matters and other practices. Pruitt faces more than a dozen federal inquiries into his spending and management practices as EPA administrator, according to the Times.

Earlier this month House Democrats asked the Justice Department to investigate Pruitt for potential criminal conduct, alleging that he repeatedly violated federal anti-corruption laws by seeking to leverage his government position for personal gain. They cited the condo arrangement as well as Pruitt directing an EPA aide to contact a senior Chick-fil-A executive as part of an effort to land his family a franchise, and a $2,000 payment to his wife from organizers of a conference Pruitt then attended at taxpayer expense.

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