Andrew Wheeler’s tenure as EPA Administrator during the Trump administration was rife with ethics issues. Now, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s nomination of Wheeler for state natural resources secretary is raising concerns once again. Wheeler’s failure to resign following the insurrection and a trip he took to Costa Rica on the taxpayer’s dime in his final days in office raise questions about his commitment to democracy and use of public resources for his own benefit.
CREW has requested records of Wheeler’s communications on January 6th and 7th, which could illuminate what actions, if any, that Wheeler took to protect the EPA and its employees from insurrectionists on January 6th, as well as records regarding the insurrection through the end of the Trump administration. CREW also requests the total costs of lodging, meals and expenses relating to his taxpayer-funded Costa Rica trip.
While Wheeler did reportedly send an email to EPA staffers the day after the insurrection expressing his “disgust” about the prior day’s events, he did not resign in protest as other senior Trump Administration officials did, or even publicly condemn President Trump’s incitement of the riot. Wheeler’s trip to Costa Rica also requires special scrutiny since just months before, the EPA scrapped his trip to Taiwan in the face of criticism about the trip’s cost at a time when Wheeler no longer represented the EPA’s future direction. Taken together, and in light of other ethics issues, Wheeler’s nomination by Governor Youngkin requires a deeply critical eye and a thorough investigation into his record on ethics and public service.