The E.P.A.’s Ethics Officer Once Defended Pruitt. Then He Urged Investigations.

“Consistent with my obligations under Office of Government Ethics regulations, I have referred a number of those matters to EPA’s Inspector General and have provided ‘ready and active assistance’ to the Inspector General and his office,” said the letter, which was sent Wednesday by Mr. Minoli, a replica of which was obtained by The New York Times by a Freedom of Information request. “To the best of my knowledge, all of the matters that I have referred are either under consideration for acceptance or under active investigation.”

The letter doesn’t point out the precise issues or the full variety of referrals associated to Mr. Pruitt.

The push to analyze Mr. Pruitt got here because the ethics workplace on the E.P.A., which is part of the company’s Office of General Counsel, suffered a extreme workers scarcity due to an company hiring freeze final yr, Mr. Minoli’s letter says. At one level final summer season, after retirements and different momentary departures, the workplace had just one full-time worker.

Mr. Minoli has since moved to rebuild the workplace and expects to quickly have six workers members and a supervisor to assist deal with the surge in requests it has obtained, the letter says.

Mr. Minoli despatched the five-page memo to David J. Apol, the appearing director of the Office of Government Ethics, which oversees ethics packages in any respect federal companies. Mr. Minoli’s memo got here partially in response to 2 letters Mr. Apol despatched to the E.P.A. elevating his personal ethics considerations concerning the company.

“Public trust demands that all employees act in the public’s interest, and free from any actual or perceived conflicts, when fulfilling the governmental responsibilities entrusted to them,” Mr. Apol wrote to Mr. Minoli in April. “Agency heads in particular bear a heightened responsibility,” he added, earlier than detailing a number of the identical ethics allegations that Mr. Minoli has apparently additionally requested the company’s inspector normal to analyze.

As the top of the E.P.A.’s ethics program and the principal deputy normal counsel on the company, Mr. Minoli doesn’t have the authority to self-discipline Mr. Pruitt or different company workers himself. Instead, if he finds proof of wrongdoing, he could refer the matter to others with larger investigative powers, such because the E.P.A.’s inspector normal or the Office of Special Counsel, an outdoor company that examines allegations of improper political exercise by federal workers, amongst different issues. Those referrals are usually confidential except there’s a discovering of wrongdoing.

Mr. Apol declined to touch upon the letter aside from to say he had obtained it. Jeffrey A. Lagda, a spokesman for the E.P.A. inspector normal’s workplace, mentioned he couldn’t touch upon any referrals from the company’s ethics officer. “While I can acknowledge that we’ve received congressional requests related to the specific issues mentioned,” he mentioned, “I cannot comment on anything beyond that fact.”

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