The Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general concluded that former agency appointee Samantha Dravis did not stop working for a three-month period as Democrats had charged, according to a new semiannual report released Thursday.
Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) asked the inspector general’s office in late March to investigate whether Dravis, who served as senior counsel and associate administrator in the EPA’s Office of Policy, skipped work between November 2017 and January 2018 while still on the payroll. Dravis, one of former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s first hires, joined the agency in February 2017 and left in April 2018.
Investigators interviewed witnesses and reviewed records, according to the report, and found no evidence to support the charges. Dravis also denied the charges, it added.
“Investigators interviewed witnesses, who stated that the employee was often in the EPA office and attended meetings during that time frame,” the report said. “The allegations were not supported."
Numerous public records released by the agency over the past year under the Freedom of Information Act document Dravis’s presence at the EPA during the three-month period, including emails and calendar records.
One EPA official, who worked with Dravis and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters, said that Dravis worked on air permitting reform as well as the Renewable Fuel Standard and changes to limits on carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants between late last year and early 2018. “I worked with her continually until she left on a number of high-level, substantive issues,” the aide said.
Dravis’s attorney, Miller & Chevalier’s Andrew D. Herman, said in a phone interview Thursday, “We’re thrilled that this is over, and it’s completely unsurprising.”
“The IG report makes clear that this is completely unsubstantiated and is not supported by the record. That should have been clear from the start, and it shouldn’t have been investigated in the first place,” Herman said. “The IGs are the last bastions of independence, and they shouldn’t be weaponized in these ways for political purposes.”
Dravis — who before joining EPA served as general counsel for the Republican Attorneys General Association, as well as president of an affiliated group — played a key role in advancing several regulatory rollbacks during her time at the agency. In late June she testified behind closed doors before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about Pruitt’s conduct in office.
According to a person with knowledge of the matter, Dravis told congressional staffers that Pruitt enlisted her help in searching for a job for his wife, Marlyn Pruitt. As part of that search, she said, Scott Pruitt initially asked her to contact the Republican Attorneys General Association. Dravis said she declined to make that call, to avoid any potential conflicts of interest, given that Pruitt once headed the group and she had worked there.