The political aides said that Mr. Pruitt’s desire to use his job for benefits unrelated to his E.P.A. work helped explain other actions that have been the subject of public scrutiny, including his first-class airline travel, an aide’s effort to help Mr. Pruitt’s wife get work with a conservative political group, and another aide’s intervening with the chief executive of the Chick-fil-A fast-food chain to help his wife set up a franchise, as The Washington Post first reported.
Mr. Pruitt’s repeated requests of his staff have led some important backers, including Senator James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, to suggest that Mr. Pruitt may have crossed the line and should perhaps step down.
“I’m afraid my good friend Scott Pruitt has done some things that really surprised me,” Mr. Inhofe told Laura Ingraham, a conservative television and radio host, this week. “If that doesn’t stop I’m going to be forced to be in a position where I say, ‘Scott, you’re not doing your job.’”
Questions about Mr. Pruitt’s behavior as administrator have led to at least a dozen investigations across the federal government. The newest inquiry, by the Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency, is examining Mr. Pruitt’s personnel practices and allegations that he may have used his E.P.A. office for political purposes, people with knowledge of the investigation said. At least two former E.P.A. officials said investigators had contacted them.
As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Mr. Pruitt earned an annual salary of about $133,000, and he had assets between $320,000 and $800,000, mostly in investment accounts, according to his disclosure documents. That included between $15,000 and $50,000 in a cash account. He reported a public employee’s retirement plan worth $100,000 to $250,000. His wife reported no income.
He also said he owed between $500,000 and $1 million on his $1.18 million home in Tulsa.
The requests to his staff for assistance began on his arrival in Washington, the four political aides said.
Mr. Pruitt and his daughter lived at first in a Capitol Hill condominium that Mr. Pruitt rented for $50 a night, even as the husband of the unit’s co-owner lobbied Mr. Pruitt on behalf of clients. Mr. Pruitt later pressed a political aide to help him find a new apartment, which he then complained was too noisy.