Ryan: ‘I haven’t paid close attention’ to Pruitt scandals

Ryan: ‘I haven’t paid close attention’ to Pruitt scandals
© Anna Moneymaker

House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHow does the 25th Amendment work? Sinema, Fitzpatrick call for long-term extension of Violence Against Women Act GOP super PAC drops .5 million on Nevada ad campaign MORE (R-Wis.) declined to comment Thursday on the ongoing scandals surrounding Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittGovernment watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas MORE, saying he wasn’t familiar enough with them.

Asked at his weekly Capitol news conference whether he still has confidence in the embattled EPA chief amid the controversies, Ryan responded, “Frankly, I haven’t paid that close attention to them.”

Ryan added that he’s pleased with the deregulatory agenda Pruitt has carried out at the EPA, but wasn’t following the alleged violations of ethics rules and excessive spending by Pruitt.

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“I don't know enough about what Pruitt has or has not done to give you a good comment,” he said.

Pruitt has for months been engulfed in high-profile scandals, including that he rented a condo from a lobbyist for $50 for each night he spent there, spent $3.5 million in his first year on a personal security detail and gave big raises to close aides by bypassing the White House’s rejection.

The focus in recent reporting has been on allegations that Pruitt used his position, staff and resources for personal gain. He allegedly had his staff contact Chick-fil-A to get his wife a franchise, reach out to GOP donors for jobs for her and had an aide purchase him a used Trump International Hotel mattress, among other tasks.

The Republican Party has generally remained supportive of Pruitt due to his regulatory actions, but lawmakers have recently been more vocal about being tired of the repeated scandals and warning Pruitt that they need to stop.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), one of Pruitt closest congressional allies, said Wednesday that the EPA head may need to resign.