Whitehouse, Merkley Call on Dourson to Address Key Ethics Concerns Ahead of Committee Vote

Whitehouse, Merkley Call on Dourson to Address Key Ethics Concerns Ahead of Committee Vote

Senators release reply from Bodine to ethics concern as baseline for EPA toxics nominee’s response

Washington, DC – Today, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) called on President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency’s toxic pollution office to explain whether he is obeying federal ethics rules, having already started work at the agency.  Whitehouse and Merkley called for Michael Dourson’s response to address at a minimum the same points that Susan Bodine, the President’s nominee to lead EPA’s enforcement office, did in her recent letter, which the Senators released along with their statement.

“Even though Dr. Dourson’s nomination has yet to make it out of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Scott Pruitt’s EPA admitted last week that Dr. Dourson is ensconced at the agency as an ‘adviser to the administrator,’” the Senators said.  “That means he has a lot of work to do to convince us he’s abiding by federal law and a wide range of federal ethics rules.  While we still believe that Susan Bodine’s arrangement raises serious questions about the Trump Administration’s respect for the advice and consent process, she at least gave us the basics in her response.  Now Dr. Dourson needs to do the same.”

Whitehouse and Merkley are calling on Dourson to make the same commitments Bodine did in her letter to the Senators.  In her response, Bodine indicated she:

  • has a written job description (which she provided to the Senators);
  • is not supervising anyone;
  • has not been delegated any official authority;
  • is not performing the basic functions or authorities of job to which she has been nominated;
  • will abide by the ethics agreement for the position to which she has been nominated;
  • has signed the Trump administration’s Ethics Pledge; and
  • is using an official email account. 

Yesterday, Whitehouse and Merkley joined 10 members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in demanding a full explanation of Dourson’s role at the EPA.  The Environment and Public Works Committee is set to vote on Dourson’s nomination on Wednesday.

A copy of Bodine’s response to the Senators is available here.