It’s not often that the head of the Environmental Protection Agency finds themselves in the news so often, but then again, most EPA administrators aren’t wildly corrupt creations of incompetent energy lobbyists. Scott Pruitt, on the other hand, is—and reports of his corruption are coming so thick and fast that they’re nearly impossible to keep up with.
Pruitt has had an extremely bad week. On Wednesday, he went on Fox News to defend himself about his decision to bypass the White House and give huge raises to staffers and promptly got wrecked by Ed Henry, which made the White House mad. Then, the Daily Beast reported that chief of staff John Kelly had specifically asked Pruitt to stop doing scandals, and Pruitt could not abide by that request for even a single afternoon.
Thursday was, if anything, worse. According a Thursday night report from the Washington Post, Pruitt was, in fact, involved in the pay raises, contrary to what he told Ed Henry on Fox News, as two EPA officials told the Post that “Pruitt endorsed the idea last month of giving substantial raises” to two of his top aides.
That’s not all. According to the New York Times, Pruitt has reassigned several top staffers after they’ve challenged him on his comically outlandish spending habits, such as, I shit you not, a bulletproof car:
There were also questions raised about a request that Mr. Pruitt be issued a bulletproof sport utility vehicle with so-called run flat tires, which keep a vehicle moving even when sustaining gunfire. And they challenged Mr. Pruitt’s expanded security detail of approximately 20 members, three times the size of his predecessor’s. Unlike his most recent counterpart under Mr. Obama, Gina McCarthy, Mr. Pruitt has security officials follow him wherever he travels, and also stay on duty overnight.
Mr. Pruitt, who often ran late, wanted to use the lights and sirens to expedite local trips in Washington to the airport or to dinner, including at least one trip to Le Diplomate, a trendy French restaurant that he frequented. Such use was not consistent with agency policy, but Mr. Weese was unsuccessful in stopping it.
You know, just spending my day trying to drain the swamp, and then begging my aides to let me throw on the sirens on in my bulletproof car so I can make a reservation at my favorite French bistro, like a normal guy. (“We dispute the veracity of the accusations,” Pruitt’s spokesman Jahan Wilcox told the Times.)
Next up, Politico had a story that Pruitt somehow fell behind on his payments at the extremely inexpensive (for a cabinet member living on Capitol Hill anyway) condo that he was living at which was owned by a lobbyist.
Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt was at times slow to pay the rent on his $50-per-night lease in a Capitol Hill condo, according to two people with knowledge of the situation — forcing his lobbyist landlord to pester him for payment.
Pruitt’s living arrangement is the latest ethical issue to come under scrutiny by the EPA’s inspector general’s office, which said Thursday it’s considering opening an investigation into Pruitt’s lease arrangement — a move that would add to reviews of Pruitt’s taxpayer-funded first-class travel, his use of special hiring authority to grant raises to aides and his spending on a soundproof phone booth for his office.
Lastly, Salon reported that Pruitt was involved in a sketchy real estate deal in 2011, when he was the Attorney General of Oklahoma.
That was just one day.
Despite all of this, it appears that Pruitt’s line that all of this is coming down on him because of mainstream liberal elites or whatever might be working on Donald Trump. The president told reporters on Thursday that he’s confident in Pruitt. “He’s been very courageous,” Trump said, according to the Post. “I can tell you at EPA he’s done a fantastic job.” And not only that, but CNN reported on Thursday that Trump, incredibly, floated replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions with Pruitt this week.
But why is all of this happening to Pruitt now? As the trade sheet InsideEPA reported, it might have to do with Rob Porter, a former Trump aide who was fired after domestic violence allegations made by Porter’s ex-wives came to light:
Porter did not respond to requests for comment but two sources say he leaked information about Pruitt after Samantha Dravis, his former girlfriend who resigned last week as head of EPA’s policy office, leaked information about his assaults on his two former wives to White House Counsel Don McGahn.
Press reports have indicated that Dravis leaked the information to the White House counsel’s office after finding out that Porter had been having an affair with now-departed White House Communications Director Hope Hicks.
One source calls the leaks “tit for tat” and the result of a love affair gone bad.
If Pruitt does eventually get taken down because of some sort of weird love triangle he doesn’t actually have anything to do with, it’ll be a strange but fitting end for a man who, even among the virulent racists and opportunistic worms who populate the Trump administration, stands out as a truly shameless and loathsome example of the very worst of American politics. Couldn’t happen to a better guy.