For those tracking our weekly list of VIPs and their unscrupulous behavior, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt could handily qualify as our Duke of the Week every Saturday.
It’s not only that the man tasked with safeguarding the environment isn’t clear on whether carbon dioxide is causing climate change — before heading the EPA, he spent his time attacking the agency. And now he’s using his tenure as administrator to make it easier for his buddies in Big Oil to pollute.
That aside, Pruitt is also comically high maintenance, and has repeatedly used his department’s staff to help him meet his lavish personal needs.
For the past several months, Pruitt has been plagued with media coverage unveiling on a near-daily basis his unprecedentedly poor behavior as a member of a President’s cabinet. In his first year as administrator, he’s spent more than $100,000 to feed his appetite for luxury travel, while simultaneously tossing an easy $3.5 million on his round-the-clock security detail, which has seemingly accompanied him everywhere, from college basketball games to the Rose Bowl to a family trip to Disney World.
On top of their guard-dog duties, he also apparently required his security detail to drive him from one Ritz Carlton to the next while he scoured the hotels for his favorite brand of lotion. He even made agents retrieve his dry cleaning.
Other items in a nowhere-near-exhaustive list of unethical behavior:
- For months last year, he rented a condo from an energy lobbyist at an economy price while concurrently meeting with said lobbyist and approving the expansion of a pipeline connected to said lobbyist and lying about his contacts with said lobbyist.
- He used a loophole in order to give two of his favorite staffers — who’ve been around since his Oklahoma days — massive raises, even after the White House shot down his request to swell their salaries by tens of thousands of dollars.
- He directed his drivers to use sirens to unlawfully cut through D.C. traffic so he could get to his fancy dinner reservations on time and then targeted a career staffer who confronted him about it.
- He spent at least $3,000 at a Washington, D.C. boutique, ordering personalized fountain pens and leather-bound journals emblazoned with his signature.
- He asked his top aide, Millan Hupp — who is reportedly finally calling it quits — to go house hunting for him, buy plane tickets for his personal travel, set up meetings with Chick-fil-A executives to discuss his wife becoming a chicken shop franchisee, and fulfill other absurd requests, like obtaining a used mattress from a Trump Hotel.
In just this past week, the Washington Post reported that the Chick-fil-A request for Marlyn Pruitt wasn’t a one-off; Pruitt routinely asked his department aides and big time Republican donors to find his wife a job.
While conservatives have been keen on Pruitt because the thought of losing him — and his penchant for dismantling every regulation the Obama administration enacted to protect the only planet we have left — is too much to bear, their abiding love may have started to dissolve this week.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham, peeved by reports that he was using his Cabinet position to work as a headhunter for his wife, tweeted that Pruitt has “GOTTA GO.” Fellow Republican and Oklahoman, Sen. James Inhofe, the Senate’s climate change denier in chief, said he would like a word with the administrator about his “spending and management decisions.” His deregulatory allies are even turning on him. In a campaign-style TV ad, the American Future Fund — a dark money group funded by conservative megadonors including the Koch brothers — called Pruitt a “swamp monster” who is “embarrassing President Trump.” Even Trump, an ardent supporter of Pruitt’s deregulatory prowess, admitted on Friday he’s “not happy about certain things” Pruitt has done.
For behavior so shady that even this cast of right-wing pundits and environmental villains can’t manage to get behind it, Pruitt is our Duke of the Week.