8 Scott Pruitt Scandals That Could Send Him To Trump's Chopping Block
President Trump's administration has seen a lot of employees come and go over the past 14 months, and there may soon be another person added to that list. The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has racked up a lot of negative headlines during his time in Washington, which suggests he might be next in line to hear "you're fired." The list of Scott Pruitt's scandals is long (and colorful).
Even before his first day on the job, Pruitt's nomination to the position set off a firestorm. Hundreds of current and former EPA employees gathered in February 2017 in Chicago to protest Pruitt's nomination. They echoed concerns of protesters in Boston, who cited Pruitt's work as Oklahoma's attorney general. During his 14 years in that position, he filed no less than 14 lawsuits against EPA regulations.
For Pruitt's critics, it was strange and unsettling for Trump to appoint someone to lead an agency they had legally tangled with in the past. They've also voiced concerns about potential conflicts of interest. Pruitt has received donations from the fossil fuel industry in the past, which the EPA regulates. But it's the on-the-job scandals listed below that critics think could (or at least, should) cost Pruitt his job.
1. He Doesn't Think Global Warming Is Necessarily A Bad Thing
During a February interview with a Las Vegas news station, Pruitt seemed to be down with our planet's rising temperatures. "We know humans have most flourished during times of what, warming trends," he told the news station. He went on to say, "Do we really know what the ideal surface temperature should be in the year 2100, in the year 2018? That’s fairly arrogant for us to think that we know exactly what it should be in 2100.”
2. He Cut Fuel Emission Standards
Justin Worland, writing for Time, called Pruitt's recent rollback of emissions standards for cars one of the "most aggressively regressive moves yet on climate change."
3. His D.C. Landlord Is A Lobbyist Who Gave Him A Ludicrous Rent Deal
Pruitt snagged what has to be the rental deal of the century: He secured housing in a pricey area of Washington, D.C. for just $50 a night. To sweeten the deal, he only paid for the nights he used the bedroom.
There's one glaring problem with that arrangement: The apartment is owned by a lobbyist whose husband is also a lobbyist, and the husband happens to represent clients who would benefit from a sympathetic EPA chief.
4. He Has A 30-Person Security Detail (Yes, 30!)
5. Move Aside D.C. Drivers, Pruitt Has A Dinner Date To Make
Recent reporting by The New York Times revealed that Pruitt requested his motorcade put its sirens on in order to get through D.C. traffic and expedite his arrival to a meal at Le Diplomate, a high-end French restaurant.
6. Pruitt Likes To Fly — But Only In Style
During his first year on the job, Pruitt dropped over $100,000 on first-class flights, Politico reported in March. According to the article, EPA protocol calls for employees to purchase coach tickets. Those are guidelines that Pruitt apparently had no problem neglecting — perhaps because he figured he was saving the agency money, considering he also looked into flying exclusively on a private jet, according to The Washington Post.
Pruitt's excuse for flying first class? As Bustle's own Chris Tognotti put it, "to avoid unpleasant encounters" with the average Joes flying coach.
7. He's Reportedly A Dicey Boss To Cross
An article in The New York Times recently laid out the circumstances behind the demotion or reassignment of several high-ranking EPA officials. One of those employees, Kevin Chmielewski, a Trump appointee, reportedly found himself on administrative leave after informing the White House about his concerns over Pruitt's management at the EPA.
The Times also reported that a former member of Pruitt's security detail, John C. Martin, lost his job as well as his badge and gun after "raising concerns about how Mr. Pruitt’s security was being handled." Eric Weese, who was moved to a position with less interaction with Pruitt, reportedly voiced his concern over Pruitt's request to use motorcade sirens for non-emergency purposes.
8. Are Soundproof Phone Booths In Government Office Space Now A Thing?
Pruitt installed a $25,000 soundproof booth in his D.C. office. With preparation and installation fees, The Washington Post reports the cost of that nifty upgrade was a cool $43,000.
Testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Pruitt said the booth was "necessary for [him] to be able to do [his] job." But Pruitt is the first EPA head to have such a booth in his office. Apparently, the agency's sensitive compartmented information facility, located on a different floor, was not sufficient for Pruitt's purposes.
Pruitt faces questions on all these fronts, to say nothing of his agency's policies. But as Philip Bump of The Washington Post pointed out on CBS This Morning, "Pruitt has really been one of the people in the administration that has driven really hard on what Donald Trump wants to see, which is rolling back a lot of environmental regulations."
Because of that, Bump doesn't think Trump will be eager to send Pruitt packing. The decision to let Pruitt go or not may ultimately depend on how much his scandals cost in political capital for the president.