Scott Pruitt’s move to correct pay raises given through a loophole in federal law to some EPA employees turned into an embarrassing interview for the former Oklahoma Attorney General.
Interviewed this week on Fox News, it appeared Pruitt just dug himself into a deeper hole about using a little known aspect of a law to get around the White House denial of pay raises for some of his aides.
Here’s how the interview went with Fox News national correspondent Ed Henry who asked:
“Now if you’re committed to the Trump agenda, why did you go around the president and the White House and give pay raises to two staffers?”
“I did not. My staff did and I found out about it yesterday and I changed it,” said Pruitt.
“So who did it?” asked Henry.
“I don’t know,” replied Pruitt.
“You don’t know? You run the agency, you don’t know who did it?” asked Henry.
“I found out about this yesterday and I corrected the action,. And we are in the process of finding out how it took place and correcting it,” added Pruitt.
Two of those getting major pay bumps were staffers Pruitt took with him from Oklahoma to Washington, D.C.
Sarah Greenwalt’s salary went from $107,435 to $164,200 while Millan Hupp’s pay jumped from $86,460 to $114,590. Both are political appointees and the White House had to sign off on the pay increases but did not.
Henry’s grilling didn’t stop there.
“So hang on. Both of these staffers who got these large pay raises are friends of yours. I believe from Oklahoma right?”
“They are staffers here in the agency,” replied Pruitt.
“They are friends of yours,” countered Henry.
“Well, they serve a very important person,” answered Pruitt.
“And you did not know that they got these large pay raises? continued Henry.
“I did not know that they got pay raises until yesterday,” answered Pruitt.
In the same interview, Pruitt defended renting a $50-a-night condo in Washington DC from an energy lobbyist who he described as a “fellow Oklahoman” and said everything was aboard board.
“Is draining the swamp, renting an apartment from the wife of a Washington lobbyist?” asked Henry.
“I don’t think that that’s even remotely fair to ask that question,” said Pruitt. “This was like an Airbnb situation. When I was not there, the landlord, they had access to the entirety of the facility. When I was there, I only had access to a room.”
It’s just the latest ethical issue swirling around Pruitt.