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 officials gut DC staff for public lands agency to move West | Democrats slam EPA over scientific boards | Deepwater Horizon most litigated environmental issue of decade Democrats, scientists slam Trump administration actions on scientific boards Overnight Energy: Scientists flee USDA as research agencies move to Kansas City area | Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules to put industry reps on boards | New rule to limit ability to appeal pollution permits 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.


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 PricePress: Acosta, latest to walk the plank 'I alone can fix it,' Trump said, but has he? Chaotic Trump transition leaks: Debates must tackle how Democrats will govern differently MORE, David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinPress: Acosta, latest to walk the plank Senior Trump administration official to leave post next week Trump sent policy pitch from Mar-a-Lago member to VA secretary: report MORE, Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: Trump officials gut DC staff for public lands agency to move West | Democrats slam EPA over scientific boards | Deepwater Horizon most litigated environmental issue of decade Trump officials gut DC staff as public lands agency preps to move out West Bureau of Land Management to move headquarters from DC to Colorado MORE and Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonBen Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist Senior Trump administration official to leave post next week Harris, Ocasio-Cortez pitch bill to increase housing assistance for individuals with criminal record MORE, all of whom were caught on the take. Plus Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpLiberal think tank: GOP paid parental leave proposals are too narrow Ivanka Trump's women's initiative unveils million in new grants The Hill's Morning Report - House Democrats clash over next steps at border MORE and Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment White House abruptly cancels Trump meeting with GOP leaders The Hill's Morning Report — Trump retreats on census citizenship question MORE, who raked in over $80 million in outside income in 2017. President TrumpDonald John TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist 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.”