Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt told Congress he “delegated” authority over controversial raises to his chief of staff, and some reporters took that as a subtle admission he lied.
However, an EPA memo obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation shows Pruitt delegated personnel authority to Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson more than one year ago, not around the time of the controversial raises. TheDCNF first revealed the existence of the EPA memo in a Thursday tweet.
Based on the document and Pruitt’s testimony, he was not saying he gave Jackson authority to grant the two raises in question.
JUST IN: Pruitt gave his CoS the authority to give personnel raises in March 2017. pic.twitter.com/N28yH3BElS
— Mike Bastasch (@MikeBastasch) April 26, 2018
Democratic lawmakers grilled Pruitt during two hearings on Thursday, including on reports he authorized big salary raises for two close aides over White House objections. Democratic New York Rep. Paul Tonko’s exchange with Pruitt got the most attention.
Tonko asked Pruitt for a response to reports in The Atlantic he, or his staff, authorized raises for two staffers who followed the administrator from Oklahoma. The raises were rejected by White House staffers, so EPA used a provision of federal law to go around the oval office.
“Those were delegated to Mr. Jackson and the Inspector General did reference that in his management alert,” Pruitt responded to Tonko.
“There were delegations giving him that authority,” Pruitt added.
Fox News correspondent John Roberts interpreted Pruitt’s delegation of authority to Jackson as “contradicting what he told” Fox’s Ed Henry earlier in April.
Scott Pruitt just told a Congressional Committee he gave his COS the green light to give raises to two EPA officials. That – in direct defiance of the WH – and contradicting what he told @FoxNews – that he wasn’t aware of the raises. This may be the end of the line …..
— John Roberts (@johnrobertsFox) April 26, 2018
Pruitt told Henry he’d only found out about the raises given to two staffers when The Atlantic reported on the incident the day before, on April 3. Pruitt also told Henry he did not know who on his staff authorized the pay raises over White House objections.
The Atlantic reported that Pruitt himself approached the White House about the raises for two staffers, the authorized the raises using a provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act after PPO shot him down.
Roberts and others claimed this showed Pruitt changed his story on the raises, essentially lying to Fox News a few weeks earlier.
But the memo obtained by TheDCNF shows he delegated Jackson authority over personnel decisions under the Safe Drinking Water Act in March 2017 — one year before EPA approached the White house about the raises.
The “delegated” authority Pruitt referred to happened months ago, not as the raises for two staffers were being sought, based on the memo.
Jackson later admitted he authorized the pay raises, and EPA’s Office of Inspector produced a report showing Jackson did indeed sign off on them “for Scott Pruitt.” According to the memo, Pruitt had given Jackson the authority to make such personnel decisions about one year earlier.
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