Quantcast

Top Pruitt Aide Has Side Hustle as Media Consultant – EPA Won’t Reveal Clients

Popular

John Konkus, a top public affairs officer at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is working on the side as a media consultant. The EPA not only doesn't have a problem with that, but won't even say who his clients are.

"Do Konkus' clients include companies or industries regulated by EPA?" asked EWG President Ken Cook. "We don't know, because both the agency and Konkus refused to answer. Does he have his own media consultant who will talk?"


On Monday, Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a letter from the EPA Office of General Counsel, showing that Konkus, EPA's deputy associate administrator for public affairs, got approval to moonlight for "two likely clients," whose names were redacted. EPA wouldn't reveal their names, and when reporters from E&E News called Konkus on his cell phone, he said: "I'm not going to be talking to you, thanks," before hanging up.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Konkus is responsible for a wide range of public affairs, media relations and other duties in his senior executive role at EPA where he draws an annual salary of $145,000. Among them are managing the EPA's digital, web and social media communications, and writing and editing press statements and op-eds. He is also responsible for staging events featuring Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Last year, The Washington Post reported that Pruitt put Konkus, a former Florida political operative, in charge of reviewing and approving millions of dollars in grants prior to being awarded by EPA.

Monday, four members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to Pruitt requesting "additional information regarding appointees engaged in outside activity for compensation."

"A political appointee cutting millions of dollars in funding to EPA grant recipients on what appears to be a politically motivated basis, while at the same time being authorized to serve as a paid media consultant to unnamed outside clients, raises serious concerns of potential conflicts of interest," the lawmakers wrote.

"What will the EPA ethics czars approve with the next spin of their moral compass?" asked EWG's Cook. "A little moonlighting for Scott Pruitt to lobby for the coal and chemical industries? Konkus could be counseling Pruitt on EPA business by day and providing strategic advice to industry at night. This could only happen in the Trump administration, where commitment to public service is as foreign and irrelevant as ethical behavior."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaking with attendees at the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at the George R. Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. Gage Skidmore / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

California Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed new restrictions on oil exploration in his state yesterday by putting a moratorium on hundreds hydraulic fracturing permits until the projects are reviewed by independent scientists, as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
The endangered Houston toad. Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

While the planet continues to heat up, almost every single one of the 459 species listed as endangered in the U.S. will struggle as the climate crisis intensifies, according to new research published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
"This singular scientific achievement was accomplished at Heliogen's commercial facility in Lancaster, California." Heliogen

A startup backed by Bill Gates unveiled a breakthrough solar technology Tuesday that could free heavy industry from fossil fuels.

Read More Show Less
Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogenic herb that can help with chronic fatigue and stress-related burnout. Tero Laakso / Flickr

By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD

While everyone has specific life stressors, factors related to job pressure, money, health, and relationships tend to be the most common.

Stress can be acute or chronic and lead to fatigue, headaches, upset stomach, nervousness, and irritability or anger.

Read More Show Less
A video shows a woman rescuing a koala from Australia's wildfires. VOA News / YouTube screenshot

More than 350 koalas may have died in the wildfires raging near the Australian town of Port Macquarie in New South Wales, but one got a chance at survival after a woman risked her life to carry him to safety.

Read More Show Less