WASHINGTON – The federal government’s top ethics official is raising serious questions about Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt’s potential violations of law. His string of scandals could topple his reign at the agency.
David J. Apol, acting director of the Office of Government Ethics, sent a scathing letter to the EPA’s ethics office, saying that Pruitt’s actions “may constitute a violation of the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch,” The New York Times reported today. The letter cites Pruitt’s $50-a-night rental of a condominium tied to an energy lobbyist, his frequent government-funded flights home to Oklahoma, and his reported firing or demoting EPA staff who raised concerns about his actions.
“Thus far, Pruitt’s conduct has raised no red flags with the EPA’s so-called ethics office, which seems to be run by Gordon Gekko,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “But now we’ll see if violating federal law is corruption enough for President Trump to fire Pruitt.”
In February, after reports of Pruitt’s penchant for first-class flights and military jets, he promised to start flying coach. EWG offered to make the transition to the cheap seats a little easier, ordering an organic neck pillow, eye shades and noise-suppressing earbuds for Pruitt. Now it appears he may need the travel kit soon for a trip home to Oklahoma, where he is reportedly weighing a Senate run.
But since Pruitt’s announcement he’d begin flying coach, an avalanche of additional self-inflicted scandals has engulfed him, many of which are the focus of Apol’s letter:
- Paying rock-bottom rent to live in a condo linked to a fossil fuel lobbyist.
- Spending $3 million in taxpayer money on a 20-person security detail.
- Ignoring White House protocol and giving senior aides massive pay raises.
- Demanding unsuccessfully that his motorcade turn on the sirens to blow through traffic en route to lunch at a fancy French restaurant.
- Demoting and firing EPA employees who questioned his extravagant spending of taxpayer dollars.
- Proposing spending $100,000 per month for private plane charter service.
- Asking to spend $70,000 on two desks, including one that would be bulletproof.
There are now 91 members of Congress from both parties calling for Pruitt’s ouster, as well as reports that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly urged Trump to fire him.
“If Pruitt does the right thing and resigns, on behalf of all Americans, EWG will pay for his final first-class flight home to Tulsa,” Cook added. “But he can still keep the coach travel kit."