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Democratic lawmakers seek criminal probe of EPA chief Scott Pruitt

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Washington, June 8, 2018 | comments
Washington Post

Six House Democrats on Friday sought a criminal investigation into Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt for reportedly using his office in a bid to secure work for his wife.

Writing to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and acting assistant attorney general John Cronan, the lawmakers said Pruitt had used his office for “the personal gain of himself and his family, in violation of federal law.” Their letter was released by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.).

An FBI spokeswoman confirmed that the agency had received the letter. “Our practice is to provide any response to the members of Congress who contact us,” she said in an email.

The Democrats cited Pruitt’s efforts last year to help his wife secure work, including a franchise with the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A, as indicated in emails recently released under a Freedom of Information Act request by the Sierra Club.

“Administrator Pruitt directly, and admittedly, used EPA resources to attempt to secure a job for his wife,” the lawmakers wrote.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the administrator had his scheduler email the company’s chief executive in May 2017 to request a meeting with Pruitt on “a potential business opportunity.” The two men never got together, but Pruitt did speak with someone from Chick-fil-A’s legal department, revealing his interest in Marlyn Pruitt becoming a franchisee.

The lawmakers’ letter also notes Pruitt’s contact last year with the leader of a New York nonprofit on his wife’s behalf. Pruitt asked Concordia chief executive Matthew A. Swift to give her a call. Swift did so, and he told The Post that Marlyn Pruitt earned $2,000 for three days of event support at the 2017 Concordia conference where Pruitt spoke.

An EPA spokesman referred a request for comment Friday to Pruitt’s outside lawyer, who did not respond.

Pruitt faces an expanding number of ethics probes over his first-class travel, use of his security detail to perform personal errands and other issues.

Several of his top political aides have resigned in recent weeks, though President Trump continues to support the embattled administrator.

“Scott Pruitt is doing a great job within the walls of the EPA,” Trump said Friday. “Outside, he’s being attacked very viciously by the press. And I’m not saying that he’s blameless, but we’ll see what happens.”

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