Ongoing ethics probes result in the resignation of two high-level EPA staffers

Ongoing ethics probes result in the resignation of two high-level EPA staffers
Amid several probes regarding the actions of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, two top EPA staffers resigned on Tuesday. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Two top Environmental Protection Agency employees resigned without giving their reasons on Tuesday, amid ethics investigations surrounding Administrator Scott Pruitt.

The staffers are former Secret Service Agent Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta who had served as head of the security team for Pruitt, and Albert “Kell” Kelly who was hired to run the agency’s Superfund program.

Perrotta will reportedly continue to cooperate with the investigation being conducted by the House regarding his involvement in the operation of Pruitt’s security detail. Kelly, it was discovered, was prohibited by the FDIC from working at any financial institutions after past violations he committed while working at a bank in Oklahoma.

In response to Kelly’s departure, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said, “Albert Kelly was never qualified to run Superfund, his banking ban was a huge red flag and his resignation is a positive development.” Beyer added: “Pruitt should be the next to go.”

Several investigations are currently ongoing regarding Pruitt’s ethics and use of taxpayer funds, including his hiring of a 24-hour security detail, travel home at taxpayer expense, renting a condo from a lobbyist in DC, and the installation of a soundproof phone booth in his office that cost just under $43k.

The White House, Government Accountability Office, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the EPA inspector general are all conducting separate probes into Pruitt’s behavior.

Pruitt was a controversial pick for EPA Administrator from the start. The Washington Post called him a “long-time adversary of the EPA,” whose aim was to roll back overzealous regulations imposed by the Obama administration.

Last month, President Trump said of his EPA chief, “I think that Scott has done a fantastic job. I just left coal and energy country.. They love Scott Pruitt.” But the president also vowed to investigate the allegations against the administrator.

Environmental groups vehemently opposed Pruitt’s appointment in February of last year, using protests, television ads and online campaigns to stop him from being confirmed.

Executive director of the Sierra Club, Michael Brune, said at the time: “Scott Pruitt as administrator of the EPA likely means a full-scale assault on the protections that Americans have enjoyed for clean air, clean water and a healthy climate. For environmental groups, it means we’re in for the fight of our lives for the next four years.”

Senate Democrats attempted to delay his confirmation further, but he was voted through with only one Republican voting against him — Susan Collins of Maine.