EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been swamped by scandal, from taking first-class flights at taxpayer expense to living in a lobbyist’s condo in D.C.
His long list of ethical transgressions signal Pruitt’s disregard for ethical standards and his close alliance with industries he is responsible for overseeing.
A rundown of his ongoing scandals
Sweetheart condo deal – Pruitt received a below-market-value housing arrangement from the wife of a prominent energy lobbyist whose clients stood to potentially gain from actions taken by the administrator.
First-class flights – It was revealed that Pruitt often flew first class or charter and military planes at very high cost to taxpayers. Pruitt claimed that harsh public comments required him to fly first class. The EPA Inspector General is investigating.
Secret phone booth – Pruitt had a secure communications facility installed next to his office for $43,000, despite the fact that EPA already has a secure communications facility on another floor. The EPA Inspector General is investigating.
Secret schedule – In contrast to long-standing EPA practice, begun by President Reagan’s EPA chief, William Ruckelshaus, Pruitt kept his schedule of events secret until forced to release it. The schedule now is only released retrospectively, with major details redacted.
Insider influence – Following a meeting with Fitzgerald Trucks, EPA created a loophole for the company’s high-polluting trucks. Pruitt met with the American Petroleum Institute as EPA attempted to lift limits on methane pollution from oil and gas operations. Pruitt met with Pebble Limited Partnership, a Canadian mining company, then cleared the way for the company’s mining operation, which threatened Alaskan fishing with pollution. The pattern has been repeated in other cases.
Partisan monitoring of employees – A partisan political firm with an EPA contract to do “media monitoring” investigated the personal political leanings of EPA employees suspected of not supporting the Trump administration.
Special waivers – Two senior Pruitt aides were granted special waivers to work for undisclosed outside clients while continuing to work at the agency. One of the men, John Konkus, is known for describing climate change as “the double c-word.” Pruitt lieutenants also sidestep waivers: Pruitt used a loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act to bring in Nancy Beck from the chemical industry’s lobbying arm to run the Office of Chemical Safety. The loophole made sure that Beck wouldn’t be subject to the Trump administration’s ethics pledge.
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