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Guest Column: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt must go
It's no secret we haven't always seen eye to eye with Donald Trump. But Mr. President, when you promised to drain the swamp in Washington, we were completely on board. Pull the plug!
So how is it Scott Pruitt is still employed? The head of the Environmental Protection Agency personifies the behavior you vowed to end.
To be clear, we're not talking about Pruitt's policy-related work. He's favoring coal and oil over renewable energy, casting doubt on climate change, trying to get rid of common-sense regulations and attempting to limit the use of science in decision-making. We disagree strongly with all of that, too, but that's politics.
And it's not a question of whether Pruitt has the administrative chops to run a big agency. He does. He's no Dr. Ronny Jackson, the embattled nominee to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. At this point, senators of both parties have expressed enough concerns about Jackson's qualifications to tame that bureaucracy as well as his supervision of the White House medical staff that it's probably best if he withdraws.
The issue is Pruitt's ethics, Mr. President, and how they violate your promise.
Like all his first-class flights, including the $120,000 taxpayer-funded trip to Italy for him and his companions. Then, after being stopped from flying first class, he explored a $100,000-a-month charter aircraft membership to give himself de facto first-class travel all the time. Pruitt cited threats to his safety later dismissed by EPA investigators.
His security detail is a 24/7, 20-person crew that's three times bigger than his predecessor's. It has accompanied him to sporting events and on family outings. He got bullet-resistant seat covers in his SUV and wanted a bulletproof vehicle.
And, of course, the $43,000 soundproof booth to keep his office conversations private.
Seems as if he thinks he's the president.
Pruitt also got a sweetheart deal on a condo rental in Washington from the wife of a lobbyist whose firm deals with the EPA. And an earlier sweetheart mortgage deal back home in Oklahoma from a banker who was later banned for life from banking, but somehow was fit enough to now be a top aide to Pruitt.
Mr. President, one of your first orders was that new employees sign a pledge to not work on issues they had lobbied on in the past two years. Pruitt circumvented that by using an obscure law on water safety to make "crisis" hires of former lobbyists without an OK from you or the Senate. Isn't that insubordination? He used the same law to give big raises to two staffers who previously worked for him.
The number of investigations your own administration is doing on Pruitt's ethics and spending habits hit double digits last week.
Mr. President, we understand that you're pleased that Pruitt is carrying out your agenda. But you don't need someone corrupt to do that.
We've complained about your reality TV approach to governing. But, Mr. President, for your sake, tell Pruitt he's fired.
Newsday, April 24