Ethics watchdog wants EPA IG to expand Pruitt investigations

The executive branch’s ethics watchdog is asking the Environmental Protection Agency inspector general to expand his investigations of Scott Pruitt to include “newly alleged conduct,” according to a letter obtained by CNN.

The Office of Government Ethics asked EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins to look into details indicating Pruitt may have “misused his position” by asking his aides to handle his personal business.

The letter says the Office of Government Ethics would use the findings to “decide whether to being a formal correcting action proceeding in order to make a formal recommendation to the President.”

“Specifically, recent reports raise additional questions regarding the Administrator’s use of subordinates’ time to search for housing and furniture for the Administrator,” read the letter, signed by Office of Government Ethics acting Director David Apol.

“Recent news reports further allege that the Administrator used his security detail to complete other personal errands for him on official time,” the letter continued. “Additionally, recent articles suggest that Administrator used a staff member and his official position to seek business opportunities for his wife with Chick-fil-a, among others. These reports raise concerns about whether the Administrator misused his position.”

The inspector general’s office has not yet received the letter, but will review the request, spokeswoman Tia Elbaum told CNN.

Pruitt is currently subject to more than a dozen reviews of his ethics and spending while at the agency. The inspector general’s office has said it is already reviewing Pruitt’s travel, hiring and raises, and an industry meeting, among other matters.

Pruitt has acknowledged the outreach to restaurant chain Chick-Fil-A and defended his request that a scheduling aide — who he called a family friend — work on his DC apartment search. Government records show the aide conducted some of that search during the workday, and the aide was given a substantial raise that Pruitt later rescinded.