Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 administrator Trey Glenn was indicted and arrested on ethics charges last week. The charges had been brought by a Jefferson County, Alabama grand jury and related to events that predate his tenure as a Federal administrator.
Trey Glenn accused of violating Alabama Ethics Act
Glenn and a former business partner named Scott Phillips were both booked into Jefferson County jail on Thursday morning after turning themselves in to local sheriffs. Both men were released soon after posting bonds of $30,000 each.
The charges stem from before Glenn’s August 2017 appointment as a regional EPA administrator by then EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Previously Glenn and Phillips ran Southeast Engineering and Consulting, which worked with a coal-mining firm known as the Drummond Company. The EPA wanted the Drummond Company to pay for a cleanup caused by smokestacks owned by one of its subsidiaries.
Little to no specifics about the actual charges have been made public. The charges are thought to involve bribery, however. Alabama ethics law makes it illegal for a lobbyist or a lobbyist’s client to give a public official a thing of value, including a job.
Earlier this year former Drummond Company VP of Governmental Affairs David Roberson and attorney Joel Gilbert were both convicted of a bribery conspiracy. Similarly to Glenn and Phillips, Roberson and Gilbert were charged in relation to a Jefferson County EPA cleanup. In October both men were sentenced to Federal prison terms.
Who is Trey Glenn?
In August 2017 Glenn became the first EPA administrator to be appointed by the current administration. He oversees the agency’s work in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
His appointment was made despite Glenn’s near-miss with Alabama ethics laws a decade previously.
A 2007 complaint alleged that while seeking appointment as administrator of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, Glenn and his family were flown on a private jet to Hilton Head and Disney World by a public relations firm. It was alleged that this PR firm was acting for its client, environmental engineering firm Malcolm Pirnie. After being named director of the ADEM, Glenn oversaw an environmental cleanup made by Malcolm Pirnie.
In 2009 an earlier Jefferson County grand jury did not find enough evidence to indict Glenn on these allegations.
Glenn maintains his innocence
In a statement issued by his attorney, Trey Glenn is insisting he will be cleared of all current charges.
“The charges against me are totally unfounded and will be vigorously defended,” he said. “I am innocent and expect to be fully vindicated.”
Democrats, meanwhile, see Glenn’s corruption troubles as a continuation of the Trump-era EPA’s ethics problems that began under former Administrator Scott Pruitt.
In a statement the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone Jr., said, “Trey Glenn should have never made it through any serious vetting process. Scott Pruitt may be gone, but it’s clear the culture of corruption remains.”
Pallone also said that in the new Congress he and fellow Democrats “will conduct vigorous oversight of the EPA and the Trump administration to ensure that public officials are serving the American people and not the special interests.”