Energy & Environment

GOP senator floats Pruitt’s resignation

Greg Nash

One of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt’s top congressional allies said Wednesday that he may need to resign due to all of the scandals surrounding him.

Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.) — a Republican who has been close with Pruitt for years, hails from the same state and agrees with nearly all of his policy positions — said that something might need to change at the EPA.

“I see these things, they upset me as much as they upset you,” Inhofe told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham on her talk show. “And I think something needs to happen to change that. One of those alternatives would be for him to leave that job.”

{mosads}Pruitt has been beset by a litany of scandals during his tenure as EPA administrator, ranging from his travel and security expenses to his leasing of a D.C. condo from the wife of a prominent Washington lobbyist.

“I’m afraid my good friend Scott Pruitt has done some things that really surprised me. And I’m the one to say this because frankly he’s a good friend of mine,” said Inhofe. “But all these things that are coming out are really not good things.”

Inhofe had kind words for Pruitt’s deputy, who would become acting administrator if Pruitt stepped down or was fired.

“There’s a guy behind him, Andrew Wheeler, who’s really qualified too. So that might be a good swap,” Inhofe said.

Wheeler used to work for Inhofe as his staff director when he led the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

“Every day, something new comes out,” Inhofe said. “So I’ve kind of taken the position that if that doesn’t stop, I’m going to be forced to be in a position where I’m going to say ‘Well, Scott, you’re not doing your job.’ And hopefully that would change.”

In a brief interview in the Capitol on Wednesday, Inhofe said he’s “growing more concerned” about Pruitt, but stopped short of calling on him to step down.

Inhofe has stood by Pruitt as the scandals have piled up, often dismissing them as minor or nonexistent issues, but has more recently expressed some concern.

He said last month that the GOP supports “on a policy level, many of the things that Administrator Pruitt is doing.” But on the controversies, Inhofe added, “obviously it’s hard to explain that away. He’s going to have to do it.”

The new comments came the same day The Washington Post reported that Pruitt enlisted an aide and GOP donors to help get his wife, Marlyn, a job. She ended up getting a temporary position at the conservative Judicial Crisis Network.

Federal officials are generally prohibited from using their positions and their official resources for personal gain or the gain of those close to them.

Ingraham herself said earlier Wednesday on Twitter Pruitt has “GOTTA GO.”

“He’s hurting the president because he has, I’m sorry, bad judgment after bad judgment after bad judgment,” she said on her show.

“If you want to drain the swamp, you’ve got to have people in it who forgo personal benefits, and don’t send your aides around doing personal errands on the taxpayer dime. Otherwise, you make everybody else look bad,” she said.

Last week, multiple reports came out that Pruitt had used his staff and security detail to do personal tasks for him, including tracking down a lotion he wanted from Ritz-Carlton hotels, picking up his dry cleaning and trying to buy a used Trump International Hotel mattress.

Also on Wednesday, the conservative group American Future Fund released a new TV ad calling on Trump to fire Pruitt, citing the $43,000 in taxpayer money he spent on a soundproof booth in his office and his bypassing of the White House to give big raises to two of his top aides.

“For the good of the country, Pruitt must go,” the spot says.

Tags Jim Inhofe Scott Pruitt
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