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Press: Drain the swamp – of Scott Pruitt

Press: Drain the swamp – of Scott Pruitt
© Greg Nash

OK, this is getting ridiculous. How many more examples of Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Trump administration doubles down on climate skepticism | Suspended EPA health official hits back | Military bases could host coal, gas exports Suspended EPA health official: Administration’s actions mean ‘kids are disposable’ Overnight Energy: Interior reprimands more than 1,500 for misconduct | EPA removes 22 Superfund sites from list | DOJ nominee on environment nears confirmation MORE’s unethical behavior do we need before he’s shoved out the door? Every day there’s another report of Pruitt’s attempts to live high on the hog at taxpayer expense.

We’re all familiar with the litany of Pruitt’s misdeeds. But it’s worth cataloguing them in one place, thanks to Axios — just to remind ourselves what a money-grubbing flimflam artist this guy really is. It started with his hemorrhaging money on official perks.

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He insisted on flying first class or leasing a private jet, citing “threats to his safety.” He spent $43,000 on construction of a soundproof telephone booth in his private office. He had biometric locks installed on his office doors at a cost of $5,700. He spent over $3 million on a 24/7, presidential-level security detail, more than three times more than any of his predecessors. Christine Todd Whitman, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator under former President George W. Bush, walked to work. Pruitt is also known to insist that his drivers use flashing lights and sirens when driving him around Washington: a standard practice for the president and vice president, but no other Cabinet member.

When they’re not following his orders to wreck the environment, Pruitt’s also used EPA staff to treat him like royalty. He dispatched his scheduling secretary to buy him a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel. He sent out his security detail to pick up his laundry and search for his favorite body lotion at the Ritz-Carlton. Staffers report they’re routinely asked to procure his favorite snacks. In return, he gave two top aides big raises, even though the White House rejected his request.

Meanwhile, Pruitt uses agency contacts to snag all the benefits he can. He asked a former Virginia politician to get his daughter into the University of Virginia. He tapped a public relations executive to get him two tickets to a sold-out Rose Bowl game. A billionaire coal executive comped him seats for him and his son for a University of Kentucky basketball game. He leaned on a former Comcast lobbyist to set up a trip to Morocco. He famously rented a bedroom on Capitol Hill from the wife of an energy lobbyist for $50 a night. Last week, he was admonished to stop freeloading at the White House mess.

Pruitt has also used taxpayer dollars to benefit his family. He directed EPA staffers to help get his daughter a White House internship. He asked one top staffer to help get his wife a Chick-fil-A franchise, which failed, while another staffer was successful in landing her a job with the Judicial Crisis Network.

Living the life of Reilly at taxpayer expense. Does Pruitt have no shame? In a word, no. Former EPA staffers report that Pruitt told them he (making only $180,000 a year, poor baby) was just, in effect, trying to “keep up with the Joneses” — the wealthiest president and Cabinet in history, including the Trumps (estimated net worth $2.8 billion); the McMahons ($1.6 billion); the DeVoses ($1.5 billion); and the Mnuchins ($400 million).

But Pruitt does have a point. In exploiting his position for personal gain, he’s not alone. He joins current and former Cabinet members Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceGOP on timing of Haley’s announcement: 'Unusual' and 'odd' Watchdog calls for investigation into Haley flights White House officials discussing potential replacements for FEMA chief: report MORE, David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinOvernight Defense: Trump says 'rogue killers' could be behind missing journalist | Sends Pompeo to meet Saudi king | Saudis may claim Khashoggi killed by accident | Ex-VA chief talks White House 'chaos' | Most F-35s cleared for flight Former VA chief Shulkin: 'Chaos' probably a 'pretty accurate term' to describe Trump White House Veterans group sues to block advisers known as ‘Mar-a-Lago Crowd’ from influencing VA MORE, Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: Trump administration doubles down on climate skepticism | Suspended EPA health official hits back | Military bases could host coal, gas exports Trump administration could use military bases to export coal, gas Why grizzly bear hunting season isn’t happening MORE and Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonAffordable housing set for spotlight of next presidential campaign Andrea Mitchell credits Judy Woodruff with saving her TV career The maturation of a pop generation: Kanye and Taylor MORE, all of whom were caught on the take. Plus Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump sends Pompeo to meet Saudi king | How Trump could work with a Dem House | Trump heads to Florida to view hurricane damage Watchdog files Hatch Act complaint against Sanders for picture with Kanye in MAGA hat The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Citi — Latest on Hurricane Michael | Trump, Kanye West to have lunch at White House | GOP divided over potential 2020 high court vacancy MORE and Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerThe Khashoggi disappearance tests US-Saudi relationship The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump sends Pompeo to meet Saudi king | How Trump could work with a Dem House | Trump heads to Florida to view hurricane damage Virginia judge calls Manafort’s plea deal ‘highly unusual,’ but is it? MORE, who raked in over $80 million in outside income in 2017. President TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE didn’t drain the swamp. He filled it with swamp-like creatures — of whom Scott Pruitt is the swampiest.

 


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