Ex-Trump aide on leave after questioning Pruitt's spending

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Ex-Trump aide on leave after questioning Pruitt's spending
FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2017 file photo, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator-designate, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Pruitt has spent millions of dollars in taxpayer funds on unprecedented security precautions that include a full-time detail of 20 armed officers, according to agency sources and documents reviewed by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A high-ranking political staffer at the Environmental Protection Agency has told lawmakers he faced retaliation after pushing back against outsized spending demands from Administrator Scott Pruitt and his top aides.

House and Senate Democrats sent letters Thursday to President Donald Trump and Pruitt describing a meeting they had with Kevin Chmielewski, who was recently placed on involuntary, unpaid leave from his positon as EPA’s deputy chief of staff for operations.

Chmielewski is a Republican who served as a key staffer for the Trump campaign before being hired at EPA last year to help oversee spending at the agency. He says he was forced out after questioning Pruitt’s travel and security spending, including the administrator’s use of first-class flights.

EPA’s press office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.