The EPA chief's corrupt, lavish spending isn't going unnoticed.
Trump and most Republicans won’t take action against crooked EPA chief Scott Pruitt. But the federal government’s top ethics cop just called him out and is demanding answer for why Pruitt is using tax dollars to support his extravagant lifestyle, including a family trip to Disneyland.
“The success of our government depends on maintaining the trust of the people we serve,” wrote David Apol, acting director of the Office of Government Ethics wrote in the letter sent Monday morning to the E.P.A. “The American public needs to have confidence that ethics violations, as well as the appearance of ethics violations, are investigated and appropriately addressed.”
Most recently, Pruitt became ensnared in scandal for “leasing” a luxury Washington D.C. condo on a per-night basis from an energy lobbyist at far below market value, even while the EPA approved a pipeline extension for a company represented by that lobbyist’s firm.
Pruitt’s daughter also benefited from the sweetheart condo deal, which cost just $50 a night.
Meanwhile, a recent report shows Pruitt employs a wildly oversized security detail consisting of 19 agents and a fleet of at least 19 vehicles — spending millions more than even the 9/11-era EPA chief. CNN notes that “with the cost of maintenance, gas, and training for agents, that leaves the dollar amount for his round-the-clock security in the millions.”
As for reports that Pruitt actively punished or demoted EPA officials who raised concerns about his run-away spending, ethics attorney Apol wrote, “If true, it is hard to imagine any action that could more effectively undermine an agency’s integrity than punishing or marginalizing employees who strive to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations that safeguard that integrity.”
The besieged Pruitt launched something of a public relations push last week. Granting interviews to only conservative media outlets, Pruitt tried to make the case that he was the real victim in all this and that he’s being unfairly targeted by liberal critics, insisting they are willing to “use any means” necessary to stop his agenda.
How liberals forced Pruitt to break the bank hiring 24-hour protection, demand the EPA purchase a five-figure cone of silence for his office, and book himself onto first class flights, Pruitt hasn’t bothered to explain.
But for now, the self-proclaimed martyr routine is working, at least on Trump.
Trump recently tweeted his public support of Pruitt. Obviously that could change. But Trump seems to have dug in as the controversy widens. Trump refuses to fire the beleaguered Pruitt even as his chief of staff, John Kelly, has urged him to do so.
So standing by Pruitt may be another way of Trump signaling to his aides that he’s done listening to them.
Plus, it’s possible Trump simply admires Pruitt’s blatant corruption and self dealing.