Press Releases

Carper, Whitehouse Call on Pruitt to Immediately Clarify Role in Exorbitant Pay Raises for Favored Staff

Internal EPA communications, numerous EPA officials, contradict Pruitt’s Fox News claim that he was unaware of the decision to approve the pay raises

Apr 25 2018

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) called on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Scott Pruitt, to clarify his role in the use of authorities in the Safe Drinking Water Act to provide large pay raises, in the amounts of roughly $29,000 and $56,000, to two of his favored aides. An internal EPA email released by the senators, as well as numerous EPA officials, contradict Administrator Pruitt’s original claim, made in an interview on Fox News earlier this month, that he was unaware of the decision to approve the pay raises.

The senators wrote, “We write to request that you immediately clarify your knowledge of and approval for the raises given to two of your top aides, Sarah Greenwalt and Millan Hupp, in light of the accumulating statements and an email that contradict your assertion that you knew nothing about the raises…. Your statement seems to be in direct conflict with emails and statements made by several other EPA officials. For example:

  • On April 5, the Washington Post reported that ‘two EPA officials confirmed that Pruitt endorsed the idea last month of giving substantial raises to senior counsel Sarah Greenwalt and scheduling and advance director Millan Hupp — although he did not carry out the pay raise himself.’ 
  • On April 6, we received information similar to that received by the Washington Post from a third EPA official.
  • On April 9, The Atlantic reported that two EPA officials confirmed the existence of an email from Ms. Greenwalt that asserted that you approved her raise.
  • On April 10, Mr. Kevin Chmielewski, a long-time supporter and campaign aide of President Donald Trump who also served as your Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at EPA, told us that the raises were ‘100% Pruitt himself.’  He also explained that earlier this year he was called into your Chief of Staff’s office and told that you wanted to move him out of his position in order to give Ms. Hupp his title and a pay increase. 
  • A February 27, 2018 email (attached) from Ms. Greenwalt to EPA’s human resources personnel states that ‘I have not seen any documentation that will reflect an increase in salary as previously discussed with the Administrator.’

The senators concluded, “In light of these accumulating reports, it seems difficult to believe that you neither knew about nor supported these large raises for Ms. Greenwalt and Ms. Hupp, even if you, as the Administrator of an agency that employs about 15,000 people, did not personally fill out the paperwork that awarded them.”

Immediately following initial reports of large pay raises for two favored EPA employees, Senators Carper and Whitehouse wrote to Administrator Pruitt requesting all information regarding the decision to use emergency hiring authority in the Safe Drinking Water Act to provide the raises. EPA has yet to respond to the senators’ initial inquiry.

The full text of the letter to Administrator Pruitt can be found below, and in PDF form here.

April 25, 2018

Dear Administrator Pruitt:

We write to request that you immediately clarify your knowledge of and approval for the raises given to two of your top aides, Sarah Greenwalt and Millan Hupp, in light of the accumulating statements and an email that contradict your assertion that you knew nothing about the raises.

On April 16, the EPA Inspector General confirmed[1] in a Management Alert that Ms. Greenwalt (referred to as Employee A in the Management Alert) received raises totaling $66,244 or 67%, and Ms. Hupp (referred to as Employee B in the Management Alert) received raises totaling $48,080 or 72.3%, since they were hired in March 2017.

The most recent April 1, 2018 raises for these two aides ($56,765 for Greenwalt and $28,130 for Hupp) were approved using authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act, reportedly after the White House rejected granting the raises using different personnel authority. When you were asked about these raises in an April 4 interview[2] on Fox News, you emphatically denied giving Greenwalt and Hupp raises and claimed that “[your] staff” was responsible for the pay raises at issue and that you only “found out about the issue yesterday” (April 3, 2018).

Your statement seems to be in direct conflict with emails and statements made by several other EPA officials. For example:

  • On April 5, the Washington Post reported[3] that “two EPA officials confirmed that Pruitt endorsed the idea last month of giving substantial raises to senior counsel Sarah Greenwalt and scheduling and advance director Millan Hupp — although he did not carry out the pay raise himself.” 
  • On April 6, we received information similar to that received by the Washington Post from a third EPA official.
  • On April 9, The Atlantic[4] reported that two EPA officials confirmed the existence of an email from Ms. Greenwalt that asserted that you approved her raise.
  • On April 10, Mr. Kevin Chmielewski, a long-time supporter and campaign aide of President Donald Trump who also served as your Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at EPA, told us that the raises were “100% Pruitt himself.”  He also explained that earlier this year he was called into your Chief of Staff’s office and told that you wanted to move him out of his position in order to give Ms. Hupp his title and a pay increase. 
  • A February 27, 2018 email[5] (attached) from Ms. Greenwalt to EPA’s human resources personnel states that “I have not seen any documentation that will reflect an increase in salary as previously discussed with the Administrator.”

In light of these accumulating reports, it seems difficult to believe that you neither knew about nor supported these large raises for Ms. Greenwalt and Ms. Hupp, even if you, as the Administrator of an agency that employs about 15,000 people, did not personally fill out the paperwork that awarded them.  In addition to the requests we made regarding this matter on April 9, we ask that by close of business on Wednesday, April 25, you provide clear responses to the following questions.

  1. Did you, at any time prior to February 27, 2018, indicate to Ms. Greenwalt that you supported a salary increase for her?  If not, do you believe that Ms. Greenwalt’s February 27 email was a falsehood?
  2. Did you, at any time, indicate that you wished to give Ms. Hupp a salary increase or a promotion to Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (or any other position)?

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[1] https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-04/documents/_epaoig_20180416-18-n-0154.pdf

[2] Barnini Chakraborty, “EPA’s Scott Pruitt pushes back on pay raise, condo controversy in Fox News exclusive,” Fox News (April 4, 2018), http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/04/04/epas-scott-pruitt-pushes-back-on-pay-raise-condo-controversy-in-fox-exclusive.html

[3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/04/05/top-epa-ethics-official-says-he-lacked-key-facts-about-pruitts-condo-rental/?utm_term=.e01c115a7e3e

[4] https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/04/pruitt-epa-raises/557561/

[5] A copy of this email was published by The Washington Post on April 20, 2018