Scott Pruitt steps down as EPA Administrator amid ethics investigations
By: Annie Yager, Xiro Xone News July 6, 2018 Updated: 5:04 AM PT
Scott Pruitt the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has resigned amid a scandal-riddled tenure that alleged he used his office for personal gain. And used employees to run personal errands. Pruitt had already been found to have violated the law in one completed investigation. At the time of his resignation, there were 13 other investigations ongoing.
"I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda," Mr. Trump tweeted. "We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright!"
Allegations surfaced from aides working for Pruitt that he was wasting taxpayers’ money, spending extravagantly for personal gratification, and meeting with lobbyist in violating a code of ethics. And going against a promise made by President Trump to, “Drain the swamp.”
In recent months, Pruitt had become known as the swampiest politician in Washington. But the administration continued to allow him to operate because he was doing what the president wanted by rolling back, the environmental protections put in place by President Obama. Leaving the Paris Accord and working to repeal Obama’s Clean Power Plan and Waters of the United States are part of Trump’s rollback plan carried out by Pruitt.
Federal investigators were looking into ethics violations and how Pruitt was spending taxpayers’ money without going to congress. There are also investigations into his acceptance of gifts and favors from lobbyists who represented businesses that had to go before the EPA.
In recent weeks, more ethic and possible criminal violations were discovered that, included altering entries in his official calendar which is a federal record, to cover-up meetings he had with people who had business directly with, the EPA. Madeline Morris, a former aide to Pruitt told The New York Times she believed “she was fired in August from the EPA after voicing concern that changes made to his official calendar — largely related to Pruitt’s trip to Italy — were unlawful.”
An EPA whistleblower Kevin Chmielewski said he was, “personally involved in firing Morris due to her resistance to changing the calendar, and “it was typical of staffers to be “retaliated against and reassigned.”
Some of the things Pruitt indulged in that raised red flags were, a request to provide 18 around-the-clock securities for Pruitt at a cost to taxpayers of 3.5 million, in his first year at the EPA. He purchased a $43, 000 sound proof telephone booth for his office.
According to the Washington Post “the Government Accountability Office (GAO) determined, the purchase was in violation of a government-wide spending law capping office redecorations and refurbishing at $5,000 without prior notice to lawmakers.”
Politico was the first to report that; “Pruitt spent upwards of $105,000 on first-class airline tickets when his predecessor flew coach.” Bloomberg News later reported that, “the EPA chief only paid $50 for each night he stayed there – far below market rate. Pruitt used an obscure provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act to substantially increase the pay of two close aides after the White House initially dismissed the requests for the raises.”
As reported by The New York Times, “a former senior aide at the EPA told lawmakers that Pruitt had asked her to help his wife obtain a job as a fund-raiser for the Republican Attorneys General Association. The aide reportedly said that when she warned Pruitt that he would have to report his wife's income on financial disclosures, he told her he would establish a limited liability corporation.”
In a report from The Washington Post, “an influential lobbyist helped plan a trip to Morocco for Pruitt.
The Atlantic reported that Pruitt that an influential lobbyist helped plan a trip to Morocco for Pruitt.”
A close aide to Pruitt told staff for the House Oversight Committee that, “Pruitt had sought her help with numerous personal tasks, like searching for housing and trying to secure a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel in Washington.”
Pruitt asked an aide with help searching for a "business opportunity" for his wife with the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A.
Pruitt blamed his decision to resign on the hounding of the press, but sources familiar with his decision have said it was prompted by a call from Chief of Staff John Kelley letting him know his time was up. Giving Pruitt an opportunity to resign rather then be fired.