Pruitt goes against White House, gives big raises to two aides

David Bohrer/NAM

After the White House rejected a request from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt last month to give two of his closest aides raises that totaled $85,000, reports reveal that Pruitt did it anyway, misusing funds available under the Safe Drinking Water Act that are supposed to be used for – wait for it – drinking water safety. He'd pulled the same move before when he hired Nancy Beck, a chemical industry lobbyist, as the head of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. By using the law to hire her instead of typical channels, Beck was also able to avoid signing the president's ethics pledge. The provision was intended to allow for the hiring of up to 30 staff members without White House or Senate approval in order to obtain urgently needed experts. Note: It is not meant for Pruitt to play favorites with industry insiders or early-career staffers who he brought in from Oklahoma, where he was the state attorney general. One of the aides, 26-year-old Millan Hupp, who handles scheduling at the agency, now makes nearly $115,000. The salary of her predecessor under the Obama administration, a five-year EPA veteran, did not break six figures until the final year of his tenure. The paycheck for the other aide, Pruitt's senior counsel, climbed from $107,000 to $164,000. One EPA official told The Atlantic: “This whole thing has completely gutted any morale I had left to put up with this place.”

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