More Pruitt allies to exit

Source: Kevin Bogardus, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, July 12, 2018

More top aides close to ex-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt plan to leave the agency.

Departing staffers include Lincoln Ferguson, whom Pruitt brought to EPA after they worked together in Oklahoma, and EPA’s deputy White House liaison, Hayley Ford, an EPA official told E&E News.

Both were considered close to Pruitt, who stepped down last week after grappling for months with allegations of inordinate spending and misuse of his public office. Andrew Wheeler, confirmed as deputy administrator this April, has replaced him as acting chief at EPA.

Ferguson, a senior adviser to Pruitt, said it was “an honor and privilege to serve at EPA” and that he plans to return to Oklahoma.

“While I am proud of the important work that was accomplished under Administrator Pruitt’s leadership, my wife and I look forward to returning home to welcome our first son in the great state of Oklahoma,” Ferguson said in a statement.

“I wish Acting Administrator Wheeler and the hardworking EPA staff the very best as they continue to better our nation’s environment.”

Ferguson was Pruitt’s press secretary when he was Oklahoma’s attorney general. He was one of several EPA aides who would travel with Pruitt as he crisscrossed the country as EPA administrator.

Ford often had a hand in planning Pruitt’s events and travel as EPA chief, according to emails released as a result of Freedom of Information Act litigation by the Sierra Club.

News of Ferguson and Ford leaving EPA was tweeted out yesterday by New York Times reporter Lisa Friedman.

Other political appointees are leaving EPA’s legal office and communications shop.

An EPA official told E&E News that Marcella Burke, a deputy general counsel, is leaving the agency, as well. She is moving into another position in the Trump administration, although sources could not say where.

Jahan Wilcox, an EPA spokesman who has been a vocal defender of Pruitt, is also among those departing the agency. Yesterday, he said he is leaving to work on Republican campaigns (E&E News PM, July 10).

The Washington Post also reported yesterday that Kelsi Daniell, who works in EPA’s press shop, is leaving the agency. She is joining Sen. Joni Ernst’s (R-Iowa) office, where former EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman also now works, according to the newspaper.

Many other aides close to Pruitt left the agency in recent months as the scandal allegations intensified.

“I thank all those who are moving on to new endeavors for their service to EPA,” EPA Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson said in a statement.