The New York Times called for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to be fired in an editorial Wednesday, “Scott Pruitt Has Become Ridiculous.”
TheNYT editorial board urged President Donald Trump to give Pruitt the boot, citing “self-aggrandizing and borderline thuggish behavior [that] has disgraced his office and demoralized his employees.”
“Mr. Pruitt is not just an industry lap dog but also an arrogant and vengeful bully and small-time grifter, bent on chiseling the taxpayer to suit his lifestyle and warm his ego,” the editorial board wrote.
Pruitt garnered considerable attention for large spending on strict security measures, first-class airline travel, connections to Washington, D.C., lobbyists, and a $43,000 telephone booth to make secure phone calls for official business. TheNYT addresses these issues and claims Pruitt’s behavior has “besmirched” the office of the EPA administrator.
Serious death threats made against Pruitt have justified much of the administrator’s travel and security spending — some prompting in-depth investigation by the FBI.
Pruitt rented the bedroom in a condominium owned by a powerful lobbyist couple. The agreement was for $50-a-night payed only for the nights Pruitt stayed in Washington, D.C., and only for the first six weeks of Pruitt’s tenure. Pruitt payed below market rates for the rental — a possible kickback for special favors — critics and some ethics officials claim.
The lobbyists, Steve and Vicki Hart, maintain no special favors were made either way. The couple eventually kicked Pruitt out of the bedroom and changed the locks on the building after he overstayed the six weeks agreement.
In 2017, Pruitt violated federal law by spending more than $43,000 on his secure phone booth without taking the expenditure before Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found. The secure phone booth should be considered furniture or an improvement to the administrator’s office, which requires Congressional approval for any purchase over $5,000, the GOA said.
Pruitt is one of Trump’s most effective administrators and has taken heat for instituting the president’s deregulatory agenda, especially where climate and pollution standards are in place, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Pruitt’s policies have been “terrible,” according to TheNYT.
The editorial board believes those policies won’t change with Pruitt’s ouster, however, since Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, “who shares Mr. Pruitt’s deregulatory zeal and fealty to the fossil fuels industry,” was confirmed as EPA deputy administrator.
Wheeler, at least, would restore the dignity of “the once-noble office,” TheNYT claims.
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