Sens. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, requested the U.S. Government Accountability Office conduct a review of the various authorities being used to hire political appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Council on Environmental Quality.

In a letter sent Aug. 18 to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, Carper and Whitehouse requested that GAO “examine the authorities, policies, practices, entities involved and compliance with applicable ethics requirements that EPA and CEQ have followed in hiring non-confirmed political appointees.”

In their letter to GAO, the senators noted, “…ethics requirements for political appointees vary by the authority under which the appointment was made. Some of the appointees are in high-level positions, managing staff and making consequential decisions, yet they were hired in a manner that exempts them from compliance with Executive Order 13,770: Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees (otherwise known as the Trump Ethics Pledge). We are additionally concerned that the authorities are being abused and that non-confirmed political appointees may not be complying with the ethics requirements that do apply to them in a timely or complete manner.”

“Our written requests to EPA for specific information regarding political appointees have thus far gone almost entirely unanswered,” the senators continued. “We write to request that GAO examine the authorities, policies, practices, entities involved and compliance with applicable ethics requirements that EPA and CEQ have followed in hiring non-confirmed political appointees.”

In March, Carper and Whitehouse joined EPW colleagues in asking EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to address concerns about secrecy associated with the hiring of political appointees. The agency has not yet provided an adequate response to that request.

The text of the letter to can be found at bit.ly/2v8IVHJ.