Demand For Investigation Follows Reports Pruitt Received Millions of Dollars In Financial Benefits from Friends-Turned-EPA Officials Kenneth Wagner and Albert Kelly
Washington, D.C. — Today, Democracy Forward requested the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) investigate whether EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt violated federal law in hiring two longtime friends, Albert “Kell” Kelly and Kenneth Wagner, who have no apparent qualifications for their positions besides the millions of dollars in loans, business opportunities and cash equivalents they provided to Pruitt when he was an Oklahoma state official.
Wagner and Kelly have provided Administrator Pruitt a series of financial benefits since he first became an elected official in Oklahoma, including:
- A mortgage for a nearly-$400,000 home registered to a shell company Pruitt co-owned.
- A $533,230 mortgage from for Pruitt to purchase a new home in Oklahoma.
- A loan likely worth over $2 million for Pruitt to purchase a nearly 30% ownership interest in the RedHawks baseball team.
The new investigation demand follows numerous reports revealing questionable and potentially unethical behavior at taxpayer expense by Administrator Pruitt during his tenure at EPA, including retaining $2 million security detail, installing a $43,000 phone booth, his frequent first class travel, unprecedented raises for his close staff, and his use of below-market rate housing rented from a lobbyist.
The letter states that “in light of Administrator Pruitt’s well-documented pattern of unethical behavior… there is good reason to conclude that [Pruitt’s] appointments of Mr. Kelly and Mr. Wagner violate the [law] by bestowing public benefits on otherwise-unqualified individuals with whom he has a close relationship.”
If the Inspector General confirms Pruitt’s misconduct, the letter asks that he take appropriate disciplinary action, potentially including the dismissal of Wagner and Kelly.
Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.