But it also showed a side of the EPA chief that top advisers say is not always readily apparent to the public. Though Pruitt demands loyalty among those in his inner circle, he has not reciprocated it to his aides, even as they face a legal and public relations backlash stemming from his conduct at the EPA. Sources say he’s actively undermined the reputations of former and current staffers, with campaigns that former senior EPA officials have described as “ratfucking.”
The targets aren’t just ex-schedulers either.
For months, Pruitt and top aides have suspected Kevin Chmielewski, Pruitt’s former deputy chief of staff, of leaking damaging details about the administrator’s travel and spending habits to the press. Sources say Pruitt led the charge to push back against his former senior aide. And he did so by tasking communications aides with leaking damaging information about Chmielewski’s alleged misconduct at EPA, including supposed unannounced vacations and shoddy timecard practices. Chmielewski has accused Pruitt of retaliation, a charge that is now under investigation by the Office of Special Counsel.