Pruitt Plays the Victim, Avoids Taking Responsibility

Statement of Elgie Holstein, Senior Director, Environmental Defense Fund

April 26, 2018
“Scott Pruitt is using his congressional testimony to dodge accountability, blame others, and make his case for a more polluted America. He has repeatedly misled the public about the ethical scandals that surround him, and today is no different. His cynicism – in taking perks, wasting taxpayer money, hiring cronies, and hiding the truth – seems boundless. Scott Pruitt has come to define President Trump’s failure to ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington.
“Mr. Pruitt refuses to admit responsibility for the health impacts of weakening limits on air pollution and carbon pollution. He blames his staff for the waste of taxpayer money. He makes clear he thinks there is nothing wrong with his use of a lobbyist’s condo, taking first class flights at taxpayer expense, or backdoor staff raises.
“Mr. Pruitt’s ethical scandals will not only increase cynicism but they’ll have a direct impact on the health of American families. By appointing a coal lobbyist as the second in command at EPA, we will get more air pollution and asthma attacks. By hiring an official straight from the chemical industry’s lobbying arm to oversee that industry, we will have more dangerous chemicals in our lives. By accepting perks and giving wide access to industry lobbyists, we will get policies that favor their interests rather than protecting our health. When Pruitt meets with a company and then issues a loophole for their super polluting trucks, thousands more of Americans will suffer serious illnesses.
“With Republicans and Democrats publicly demanding answers, it’s time for Scott Pruitt to come clean – about his numerous scandals and about the policies that are making America dirtier. Mr. Pruitt showed, once again, he is unfit for the office he now holds.”
Some key takeaways from the hearing so far:
  • Pruitt admitted he had lied: He said that he knew about his employee raises, despite having told Fox News on April 4 that “I found out this yesterday.” To this, Fox News’ John Roberts says “this may be the end of the line.”
  • Pruitt said using a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) is “normally how you buy real estate in Oklahoma.”
  • Pruitt encouraged—but would not say he would order—Kell Kelly to disclose more information to the committee on why he was banned for life from banking by the FDIC.
  • Rep. DeGette asked if Pruitt knew the $43,000 expenditure on his soundproof booth violated the law, as found by GAO. Pruitt says he didn’t know at the time and says they're "investigating internally" the situation.
  • Pruitt admitted that he did not conduct any ethics review of his condo lease before it was signed.

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