CONTACT: Jordan Libowitz
202-408-5565 | [email protected]
Washington— Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler appears to have violated his ethics pledge and executive branch standards of ethical conduct by working on issues on which he previously lobbied and should have recused from, according to a complaint filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) with the Office of Inspector General at the EPA.
As a condition of his appointment, Wheeler signed an ethics pledge barring him for two years from working on issue areas on which he lobbied within two years of his appointment. Wheeler, in his role as Acting EPA Administrator, signed off on a proposed rule that could reverse prior EPA actions taken to regulate emissions from coal- and oil-fired electric utilities, a policy issue on which he appears to have lobbied on behalf of his former client Murray Energy. As a result of his apparent lobbying, Wheeler should have recused from participating in the proposed rule for two years after he was appointed to the EPA on April 20, 2018. However, he participated in the matter less than a year later when he signed the proposed rule on December 27, 2018, likely violating his Ethics Pledge. Wheeler’s involvement in the proposed rule also produced the appearance of a lack of impartiality, which appears to violate his obligations under the Standards of Ethical Conduct for executive branch employees.
“It is becoming more and more clear why coal and energy companies are happy to have their former lobbyist Andrew Wheeler in charge of the EPA,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “Administrator Wheeler’s apparent failure to abide by ethics obligations and to avoid the reality or appearance of conflicts continues to undermine the EPA’s integrity and weakens public confidence in our government. It is imperative that the EPA’s Inspector General investigate these apparent violations and work closely with the Office of Government Ethics to enforce the government’s ethics rules.”
CREW previously filed a complaint against Wheeler asking the EPA’s Inspector General to investigate whether Wheeler violated his ethics pledge also by failing to recuse himself from issues he previously lobbied on. That complaint called out Wheeler for holding meetings with his former clients, a direct violation of his ethics agreement.