US Senate confirms former coal lobbyist as deputy at EPA

Scott Pruitt, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is facing even more allegations of ethics violations.

Chmielewski served as a key staffer for the Trump campaign before being hired at EPA a year ago to help oversee the agency's budget and expenditures.

Trump has thus far stood by his embattled EPA chief, suggesting that Democrats and environmentalists will do anything to stop Pruitt's rollbacks of Obama-era regulations.

Chmielewski, a Republican, is a supporter of and former campaign aide to Donald Trump.

Mr. Chmielewski said to us when explaining his decision to speak out against Administrator Pruitt that, regardless of political party, 'right is right, and wrong is wrong'.

Pruitt was reimbursed for these travel expenses when he personally laid out the money for them, though some of his security detail were not fully compensated for their luxury travel, Chmielewski alleged.

When asked for a response, EPA spokeswoman Jahan Wilcox said, "We will respond to members of Congress through the proper channel".

Another EPA staffer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation, said that Pruitt's use of different emails has raised concern among agency lawyers responsible for scouring the administrator's official correspondence in the course of responding to FOIA requests from journalists and outside groups. Elijah Commings (D-MD), Gerald Connolly (D-VA), and Don Beyer (D-VA).

The allegations made by Chmielewski are the latest against Pruitt, whose continued leadership of the environmental agency has been under fire since the revelation two weeks ago that he lived in a bargain-priced Capitol Hill condo tied to a fossil fuels lobbyist.

Senate Republicans on Thursday confirmed former coal industry lobbyist Andrew R. Wheeler as the second highest-ranking official at EPA.

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The letters to Trump and Pruitt were signed by Sens.

EPA's inspector general is conducting at least five audits scrutinizing Pruitt's spending and other issues.

But Chmielewski said the administrator was in the know.

Hart is chairman and CEO of the powerhouse lobbying firm Williams & Jensen, which records show has several clients who have received favorable regulatory rulings from EPA under Pruitt.

Pruitt allegedly told staff to "find me something to do" in locations around the country to justify spending taxpayer money, according to the letters. He flew with Delta instead of the government's contract carrier for that route so he could get frequent flier miles.

"Mr. Chmielewski claimed that you refused to stay at hotels recommended by the U.S. Embassy, although the recommended hotel had law enforcement and other U.S. resources on-site", the letter reads.

Pruitt's hotel choices have also required his security detail to pay for rooms out of their own pockets. The EPA administrator's annual travel budget is $450,000.

Dravis, 35, resigned from EPA earlier this month.

Chmielewski told Democrats that when he first arrived at the EPA to work for Pruitt, EPA Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson told him "the nightmare is now yours". On a conference call that included the EPA's liaison to the White House, Pruitt's security chief said he "didn't give a fuck who is on this call" when he described his plan to retrieve Chmielewski's credentials, according to the letter. Pruitt denied any knowledge of the salary increases in an interview with Fox News last week. Pressed by the interviewer on whether Hupp and Greenwalt were friends of his, Pruitt replied, "Well, they serve a very important person".

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