Watchdog group files complaint with EPA inspector general over apparent violation from agency head
The watchdog group Protect the Public's Trust has filed a complaint with the inspector general of the Environmental Protection Agency alleging an official may have "improperly exerted his influence to arrange a high-level meeting with personnel on behalf of his former employer."
Before accepting his current role at the EPA, Joseph Goffman, the acting associate administrator for the agency's Office of Air, was employed by Harvard Law School as the executive director of the Environmental and Energy Law Program.
But following the signing of his EPA recusal statement in early April of this year, Goffman recommended to someone who worked for him the agency take a meeting with Harvard – an action he was barred from taking due to his recusal statement.
The EPA's top ethics official wrote of Goffman's action, "[P]ursuant to Executive Order 13989, Section 2 and the ethics pledge that you signed you agreed not to “participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to [your] former employer” for two years. Despite this restriction, upon receiving an email from an employee of Harvard University, you did not immediately recuse. Instead, you forwarded the email to a subordinate with a recommendation that the Agency should involve itself, and your subordinate agreed."
Goffman previously served as an EPA attorney for the entire duration of the Obama administration, from 2009-2017. Therefore, Protect the Public's Trust argues, he would doubtlessly be well aware "of the ethics regulations governing political appointees," in addition to the fact that he had signed the recusal statement not but two weeks prior to the apparent violation of the rules.