Protesters at hearing hoist ‘Mr. Corruption’ signs behind Pruitt

Protesters at hearing hoist ‘Mr. Corruption’ signs behind Pruitt
© Greg Nash

A handful of protesters at a congressional hearing with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittEPA employees push 'bill of rights' to protect scientific integrity EPA's independent science board questions underpinnings of numerous agency rollbacks Overnight Energy: Rate of new endangered species listings falls | EPA approves use of 'cyanide bombs' to protect livestock | Watchdog says EPA didn't conduct required analyses MORE hoisted small signs labeling him “Mr. Corruption,” with Pruitt’s portrait, behind him.

The signs, held up when Pruitt was answering a question by Rep. Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonEx-Tea Party lawmakers turn heads on K Street Longtime GOP aide to launch lobbying shop Katie Hill resignation reignites push for federal 'revenge porn' law MORE (R-Texas), were the first instance of protest within the hearing room at the blockbuster event, a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Environment Subcommittee.

Rep. John ShimkusJohn Mondy ShimkusRepublicans eye legislation to rival Democrats' sweeping climate plan Overnight Energy: House passes sweeping bill on 'forever chemicals' | Green groups question Pentagon about burning of toxic chemicals | Steyer plan would open US to climate refugees House passes sweeping bill to target spread of toxic 'forever chemicals' MORE (R-Ill.), chairing the hearing, threatened to have the protesters removed, but they were allowed to stay.

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“I have some magic words that will then cause you to have to leave. I do not want to say that,” he said.

“We asked for decorum, that is not being ... decorus, whatever the word is,” Shimkus laughed.

Capitol Police officers told the protesters to take the signs down and warned them that if they came up again, the protesters would be removed. The protesters complied.

Representatives from Moms Clean Air Force and Friends of the Earth are attending the Thursday hearing with each group wearing matching shirts. They both have been outspoken opponents of Pruitt’s policies and management of the agency.

Pruitt is at the center of numerous ethical and spending controversies, including renting a condo for just $50 for each night he stayed there from an energy lobbyist’s wife.