Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt granted pay raises to two of his closest aides despite the White House rejecting his plans for the salary hikes, The Atlantic reports.
Sarah Greenwalt worked as Pruitt's general counsel when he served as attorney general in Oklahoma. She now serves as senior counsel at the EPA. Millan Hupp had worked on Pruitt's political team and now is the EPA's scheduling director.
Pruitt had sought approval to raise Greenwalt's salary from $107,435 to $164,200, the Atlantic reported. He also looked to increase Hupp's pay from $86,460 to $114,590.
Since both women were political appointees, Pruitt had to first gain approval. But the Presidential Personnel Office dismissed Pruitt's application for the pay raises and the White House declined to approve them, a source told the Atlantic.
However, Pruitt later reappointed both women under the Safe Drinking Water Act, which allowed him to hire up to 30 people without White House or congressional approval. The pay raises for both were processed less than two weeks after Pruitt had sought White House approval, the Atlantic reported.
"This whole thing has completely gutted any morale I had left to put up with this place," one EPA official told the Atlantic.
Word of the pay raises came while Pruitt was the subject of a report in The Wall Street Journal that he paid just $50 a night to rent a luxurious condo in Washington owned by the wife of an energy lobbyist.
The Trump administration is launching an inquiry to "dig a little" deeper into the rental agreement, an official told the Journal.
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