UPPING THE ANTE

House Democrats Seek Criminal Investigation into Scott Pruitt

A letter to the FBI and Department of Justice spotlights the administrator's attempt to get his wife a Chick-fil-A franchise.

Mark Wilson/Getty

A group of House Democrats have requested that the FBI and Department of Justice launch a criminal investigation into embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

On Friday afternoon, Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), along with at least for other co-signers, sent a letter to the two law enforcement agencies saying there was sufficient evidence to investigate Pruitt on grounds of public corruption owed to his attempts to secure a private business deal for his wife.  

“This week’s revelation that Administrator Pruitt used his public office – including both his position and EPA staff – to attempt to get his wife a Chick-fil-A franchise is the latest in a string of unethical spending and management decisions that have given rise to twelve federal investigations,” a copy of the letter obtained by The Daily Beast reads. “Administrator Pruitt directly, and admittedly, used EPA resources to attempt to secure a job for his wife.”

Beyer’s office is leading the charge on the letter but Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) have signed on as well.

“We formally request that the FBI open an investigation into Administrator Scott Pruitt’s conduct to assess whether he broke the law, including criminal statutes prohibiting public corruption,” the letter, addressed to FBI director Christopher Wray and Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan reads.

Pruitt has been beset by scandal for months. This week alone, it was revealed that he’d asked a political aide to assist in the process of getting his wife a “business opportunity” with Chick-fil-A. Additionally, as The Daily Beast reported, he regularly asked subordinates to go fetch snacks for him throughout the day. These requests also reportedly extended to his security detail, who were allegedly made to pick up dry cleaning and lotion.

That comes on top of past revelations of Pruitt’s relationship with a D.C. lobbyist landlord who rented the administrator a room at a highly-discounted rate even as he represented clients with business before the EPA.

“At the very least, we know that federal ethics laws bar public officials from using their position or staff for private gain,” Beyer’s letter says. “Administrator Pruitt has certainly done just that. Further, his actions related to his wife’s employment and the quid-pro-quo condo situation with industry lobbyists may have crossed a line into criminal conduct punishable by fines or even by time in prison.”

A request for comment to the EPA was not immediately returned.

Read the full letter here: