Two Trump EPA Appointees Defrauded Agency of $130K, Watchdog Finds

Two Trump EPA Appointees Defrauded Agency of $130K, Watchdog Finds

From PBS

Two high-ranking Trump political appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency engaged in fraudulent payroll activities — including payments to employees after they were fired and to one of the officials when he was absent from work — that cost the agency more than $130,000, a report by an internal watchdog says.

Former chief of staff Ryan Jackson and former White House liaison Charles Munoz submitted “official timesheets and personnel forms that contained materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements” to mislead EPA personnel and facilitate improper payments over multiple months, according to a report by EPA’s Office of Inspector General.

The two men, who have since left the EPA, arranged for former agency employees to continue collecting nearly $38,000 salaries even after they were fired, the report says.

Separately, Munoz also received an improper raise and submitted “fraudulent timesheets” during periods when he was not at his work station that cost the EPA almost $96,000, the report said.

While the Justice Department has declined to prosecute the former Trump-era officials, “the EPA OIG will do everything within its power to ensure that public officials are held accountable for acts of misconduct during their service,” O’Donnell said.

A spokesperson for EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the agency “is evaluating the report and potential next steps.”

Federal prosecutors declined to press charges over any of the inspector general’s findings. A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment Friday.

Jackson, a former aide to Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., left the EPA in February 2020 to become vice president for government and political affairs at the National Mining Association. He could not be reached for comment, and a spokesperson for the mining group did not return calls and emails.

Munoz, who left the EPA in January when the Biden administration took office, also could not be reached for comment.