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EPA regional chief alleges he was fired for being cozy with Dems

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has fired regional administrator Michael Stoker, who alleges his dismissal was personal and based on his good working relationship with Democrats.

Stoker, who was fired Wednesday, has since penned an open letter to staff.

“Frankly I have a gut feeling it is and was 100% personal,” Stoker wrote in the correspondence reported on by E&E News

EPA said Friday that regional administrators are encouraged to work in a bipartisan manner, and that Stoker was let go due to excessive travel and other issues on the job.

Stoker, who oversaw a region that included much of the West Coast, outlined the positive feedback he got from Democratic lawmakers from the area.

“Just 3 weeks ago I was told by someone in HQ whose identity will remain anonymous that it wasn’t going unnoticed how many Democrat members in Congress were commending me for the job I was doing,” Stoker wrote, referencing House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: Republicans embraced ‘darkest vision’ of executive power by acquitting Trump Hillicon Valley: Democrats press Facebook, Twitter to remove new Trump video of Pelosi | Iowa Dem chair calls for investigation into caucus problems | How Reddit is combating coronavirus misinformation On The Money: Economy adds 225K jobs in January, topping expectations | Appeals court tosses Dems’ lawsuit over emoluments | Democrats decide against bringing back earmarks MORE (D-Calif.) along with numerous other West Coast lawmakers. 

In his letter, Stoker said he remains a Trump loyalist, but doesn’t see the EPA’s work as partisan.

“Bottom line I am proud of the work I’ve done and I am especially proud that both Democrat and Republican lawmakers have applauded my efforts,” he wrote. “After all, last time I checked, the EPA’s mission to protect the public health and environment is not a partisan issue…at least it never has been for me.”

EPA spokeswoman Corry Schiermeyer said Stoker’s “excuses and stories are simply all made up.”

“Although travel and accessibility to state partners in an important and expansive region like the southwest is vital, Mike was too interested in travel for the sake of travel and ignored necessary decision making required of a regional administrator,” she said in a statement. “EPA leadership repeatedly requested Mike to simply conduct the basic responsibilities of his job, we regretfully and ultimately after many requests had to relieve him for severe neglect and incompetent administration of his duties.”

An EPA Office of Inspector General review of Stoker’s travel found he spent 30 days in the EPA’s San Francisco office where he was based, 19 in the agency’s Los Angeles office, and another 72 days traveling over a roughly eight month period.

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