2 top aides leave EPA amid ethics probes
The two top officials in charge of security and toxic-waste cleanups at the Environmental Protection Agency have abruptly left their jobs, days after EPA administrator Scott Pruitt told lawmakers his subordinates were to blame for ethics problems that have imperiled his political future and prompted more than a dozen federal investigations.
In statements Tuesday, Pruitt praised the two men – Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta, the security chief, and Albert Kelly, who ran the EPA’s Superfund program – and gave no reason for their unexpected departures.
Perrotta was expected to appear today for a transcribed interview by staffers of the House oversight committee, one of the congressional bodies and federal organizations probing reports of excessive spending by Pruitt and other issues at the agency. Committee aides said Perrotta’s resignation was not expected to derail his appearance.
EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said the departures were unrelated to the ongoing federal investigations and that the agency was fully cooperating with the congressional probe, led by House oversight chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.
Pruitt’s spending on security and some of the security contracts with Perrotta are among the topics of the federal probes involving the EPA under Pruitt, a former Oklahoma attorney general. Pruitt, an ardent advocate of minimizing regulation, has survived the kind of scandals that have brought down several other Cabinet appointees of President Donald Trump’s.
At House hearings last week, Pruitt weathered six hours of scathing questions, criticism and a couple of calls from congressional Democrats to resign over the steady flow of news reports and announcements of new investigations allegations of ethical lapses at his agency.