In his oft stated campaign to drain the swamp of special interests from federal government, President Donald Trump — to date — is apparently forgiving the ethical lapses, lavish spending of taxpayer dollars and outright administrative sins of Scott Pruitt, Environmental Protection Agency director, who is fast becoming the poster boy of ethical malfeasance and political corruption in the mess that is this administration.
And to the embarrassment of our state, Rep. Evan Jenkins of the 3rd District did the president one better. During Pruitt’s appearance before an Interior subcommittee (last) Thursday, Jenkins issued the climate denier an invitation to come visit the Mountain State, presumably not to walk the PCB-laden grounds of Minden, to raft the Kanawha River just south of Charleston or to huddle with respiratory therapists at your local black lung disease clinic.
Despite our congressman’s fawning over Pruitt, at least five Republican members of Congress and 170 Democrats have called for his resignation — and not without good reason.
We don’t know just how many total investigations the EPA chief is facing, but the number of open federal investigations into Pruitt’s activities was trimmed to 10 last week — only after the Government Accountability Office decided that spending $43,000 on a soundproof phone booth for the director’s office broke two laws.
The inspector general in January began auditing the administrator’s costly first-class flights to his home state of Oklahoma. The probe was expanded to include Pruitt’s trip to Morocco last December. Investigators are also looking into Pruitt’s use of round-the-clock protection — i.e. bodyguards — for which taxpayers are footing the bill. Oh, yes. Seems as though that protection accompanied the secretary on family trips — not business trips — to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl.
Pruitt has kept investigators busy. The inspector general is also looking into five-figure raises — translated as tens of thousands of dollars — granted to two longtime aides from Oklahoma who joined Pruitt at the EPA. During his testimony,Pruitt admitted he knew about the salary hikes — contradicting his own statements made in a high-profile Fox News interview earlier (in the) month — and noted that the watchdog’s preliminary report found Pruitt’s chief of staff authorized the increases.
And then on Friday, new trouble from within the agency.
The inspector general has opened “new reviews” into, among other apparent ethical lapses, Pruitt’s $50 per night condominium rental agreement with the wife of an energy lobbyist.
Pruitt’s response? A mixed bag, at various times throwing his own staff under the bus or calling the accusations lies and distractions.
Clearly, this guy does not operate by an ethical code that is demanded by service in our federal government. Just the opposite. We think Pruitt ought to resign — and save the president the responsibility of firing him.
Drain the swamp, right?