Oversight committee members question EPA appointee’s ‘strong ties to China’

Kevin Bogardus, E&E News

Republican members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee are raising questions about a top EPA science official.

In a letter sent today to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, the lawmakers noted Chris Frey, deputy assistant administrator for science policy at the agency, has taken a leave of absence from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and had consulted for the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department.

“These connections raise concerns” about Frey’s role as the senior political appointee in EPA’s research office, they said.

They questioned whether EPA had analyzed if Frey’s affiliation with the Hong Kong school is in line with the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bars government officials from receiving payments from foreign governments.

Further, they asked for a number of documents from the agency, including any communication records between Frey and anyone affiliated with the school as well as with any ethics advice regarding his work there.

Protect the Public’s Trust, a conservative-leaning watchdog group, criticized Frey’s connections to the school in a press release last month. The group’s director, Michael Chamberlain, served as a Trump administration appointee at the Department of Education. PPT has targeted numerous Biden administration appointees since its launch earlier this year for what it argues are ethical lapses.

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