“He said he told the EPA senior official, ‘Please be aware [family member 1 is] actually applying for a job at EPA,’” the IG report states. “Domenech described it as an awkward moment for him and said that at one point he ‘pulled [the EPA senior official] aside and said, ‘Hey, I really apologize. I did not set this up.’”
The family member in question was Eric Frandy, a source familiar with the report confirmed to POLITICO. The EPA official Domenech approached was Ryan Jackson, former chief of staff to previous EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, the source confirmed.
Frandy in 2012 married Domenech’s daughter Emily, who is a senior policy adviser to Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the House’s top Republican.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Frandy is listed as a personal security officer in the Army, though the IG report says he was working for a “prominent” senator prior to being hired at EPA. The profile does not mention his time at EPA.
Jackson left EPA in February after serving three years as chief of staff. He took a job running the National Mining Association’s lobbying shop.
EPA declined to answer questions about Frandy’s employment history or job duties. Frandy did not return calls seeking comment.
After the concert, Domenech used his official Interior email account to seek out the EPA official’s contact information. The next morning he used the same email account to send one of the family member’s wedding business information to the EPA official along with the message, “Let me know if we can ever be of service.”
Over the next several weeks, Domenech and the EPA official repeatedly exchanged emails about the progress Frandy’s application was making, and EPA eventually hired him. Jackson, who left EPA in February and now heads the National Mining Association’s lobbying office, did not respond to the IG office’s questions.
Interior downplayed the concern over the latest IG findings, saying Domenech’s communications with the EPA occurred in 2017 before the department added more officials to its ethics staff.
“The underlying events regarding Mr. Domenech occurred in 2017 before the Department initiated an unprecedented effort to invest in building a culture of ethical compliance and dramatically expanding the Department of the Interior’s Ethics Office Program, which has resulted in tripling the number of career ethics officials within the Department,” said department spokesperson Nicholas Goodwin said.
“Mr. Domenech has received additional ethics guidance and ethics training, and the Department considers the matter resolved,” Goodwin added.
EPA did not immediately provide comment.
After the latest finding, House Natural Resources Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) called for Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to fire Domenech.
“When it comes to promoting ethics and preventing conflicts of interest, this administration has put up nothing but words, and at this point the damage to the Interior Department’s reputation is mounting by the day,” Grijalva said in a statement Friday. “Trump’s leadership team has created a culture of ignoring corruption instead of holding anyone accountable for repeated failures, and the American people are tired of it. Firing Mr. Domenech is the only serious course of action at this point — another round of ethics training is clearly just a waste of time, since it hasn’t sunk in by now.”