Press: Why does Scott Pruitt still have a job?

Press: Why does Scott Pruitt still have a job?

No matter how important, all the speculation about whether President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values MORE will fire Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinBarr’s first task as AG: Look at former FBI leaders’ conduct 5 myths about William Barr William Barr's only 'flaw' is that he was nominated by Trump MORE, special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE or even Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsGraham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies Martin, Bobby and the will to change Overnight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All' MORE distracts from one even more immediate and pressing question: Why hasn’t he already fired Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittChristie says Trump hired 'riffraff' in new book Meet 3 women who stood up to Trump to protect the American people — and lost their jobs Overnight Energy: Wheeler weathers climate criticism at confirmation hearing | Dems want Interior to stop drilling work during shutdown | 2018 was hottest year for oceans MORE?

Pruitt’s a walking ethics time bomb. He’s now under investigation on so many fronts he needs a whole team of lawyers to defend him: from luxury travel, to private security overkill, to lavish improvements to his office, to steep, unauthorized pay raises for key staffers, to a sweetheart bedroom deal on Capitol Hill. In a Cabinet full of grifters, he’s grifter No. 1.


One thing about Trump Cabinet members: They love private jets. And, like Veterans Affairs Secretary David ShulkinDavid Jonathon Shulkin‘We Can Do It!’: Women and bipartisanship Reforming veterans benefits will be controversial, but necessary Trump’s shifting Cabinet to introduce new faces MORE, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceGrassley to test GOP on lowering drug prices Trump’s shifting Cabinet to introduce new faces Cummings sends 51 letters to White House, others requesting compliance with document requests MORE and Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: Major California utility PG&E filing for bankruptcy after wildfires | Zinke hired at investment firm | Barclays to avoid most Arctic drilling financing Zinke takes job at investment firm Trump taps Commerce watchdog to be new Interior inspector general MORE, Scott Pruitt has enjoyed his fair share. According to CNBC, Pruitt cost taxpayers more than $163,000 in his first year by taking first-class flights, military aircraft and charter flights. Flying first-class instead of coach alone cost over $105,000.

Troubled by HUD Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonTop Trump official resigned over White House plan to withhold disaster-relief funds from Puerto Rico: report Trump taps Commerce watchdog to be new Interior inspector general DOJ probing whether Zinke lied to Interior investigators: report MORE’s $31,000 dining room suite? Scott Pruitt tops that. On his demand, EPA shelled out $43,000 to build a soundproof phone booth in his office, though neither he nor the agency provided any explanation for why he needed it, given the existence of a secure communications center in the same building.

There’s no good explanation for why he needs a massive security detail, either, but he’s got it, 24/7: 19 agents and a fleet of 19 vehicles at an annual cost of more than $2 million, not counting training, travel or equipment. All this at a time when Trump proposed cutting the EPA’s budget by 30 percent. That’s greater protection, by the way, than members of the Supreme Court or most other Cabinet members enjoy — and the first round-the-clock protection ever provided for an EPA administrator. Christine Whitman, who held the job under Bush 43, walked to work.

But Pruitt’s received the most flack for his sweetheart housing deal: renting a room on Capitol Hill condo for $50 a night — payable only on those nights when he actually stayed there — from the spouse of an oil industry lobbyist, who lobbied for clients at the EPA while Pruitt was sleeping in his wife’s condo. Pruitt insists there’s no conflict because he was paying market rate. Baloney. I live on Capitol Hill. You couldn’t sleep on the ground under the 395 freeway for $50 a night.

Living high on the hog isn’t anything new for Pruitt. The New York Times reports that, as Oklahoma attorney general, he purchased a mansion near the state capitol in a special deal arranged by a local banker who now — surprise, surprise — has a top job at the EPA.

The point is: For anybody else, any one of those offenses would be a fireable offense. Price and Shulkin were fired for a lot less. So why’s Pruitt still on the job? Because he’s doing exactly what Donald Trump wants by killing, one by one, all environmental regulations adopted under President Obama.

When his former HHS secretary got in trouble for private plane travel, President Trump said Price was a “fine man,” he just didn’t like “the optics.” But Trump doesn’t care about the “optics” of Pruitt’s ethical problems. As long as he continues his one-man war on clean air and clean water, Pruitt can line his pockets all he wants.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “From the Left: Life in the Crossfire.”