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 TrumpRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Jake Ellzey defeats Trump-backed candidate in Texas House runoff DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit MORE will fire Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWashington still needs more transparency House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week MORE, special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE or even Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Democrat stalls Biden's border nominee Garland strikes down Trump-era immigration court rule, empowering judges to pause cases 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 PruittWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Saluting FOIA on its birthday Watchdog found EPA employees kept on payroll by Trump appointees after they were fired: report 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 ShulkinBiden's nominee for VA secretary isn't a veteran — does it matter? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress slogs toward COVID-19 relief, omnibus deal A crisis that unites veterans MORE, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Former Georgia ethics official to challenge McBath A proposal to tackle congressional inside trading: Invest in the US MORE and Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Biden launches blitz for jobs plan with 'thank you, Georgia' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court sets in motion EPA ban on pesticide linked to developmental issues | Trump Interior Secretary Zinke files to run for Congress, again | Senate passes bipartisan B water infrastructure bill 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 CarsonBen CarsonGovernment indoctrination, whether 'critical' or 'patriotic,' is wrong Noem takes pledge to restore 'patriotic education' in schools Watchdog blames Puerto Rico hurricane relief delays on Trump-era bureaucracy 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.”