After a flurry of controversial scandals over the past few months, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned Thursday from the EPA.
President Trump said on Twitter that he had accepted Pruitt’s resignation and reiterated that his EPA appointee had done an “outstanding job” and was thankful for his service. Pruitt was one of the more aggressive and outwardly ambitious administrators at the EPA. During his time as attorney general of Oklahoma, he sued the EPA more than a dozen times and said he wanted to shrink the agencyand limit its authority significantly if he could.
Pruitt’s exit came after a series of alleged ethical and political lapses, including his renting a Capitol Hill condominium tied to a lobbyist whose firm’s clients had business before the EPA, spending millions of dollars a year on round-the-clock security and travel, giving oil and gas producers in Utah an exemption from pollution standards and trying to use his influence to get his wife her own Chick-fil-A franchise. Some of his more unusual scandals were attempting to procure a used mattress for a discounted price from the Trump Hotel in Washington and ordering his aides to run around town searching for fancy lotion from the Ritz Carlton.
His tenure at the EPA was focused on turning back much of the environmental efforts of previous administrations. Pruitt supported the repeal of significant environmental regulations such as the Clean Power Plan and Clean Water Rule, which were created during President Obama’s tenure.
Besides attempting to repeal major regulations related to air and water quality, he succeeded in lowering the emission standards for certain hazardous air pollutants and certain emissions.
His successor Andrew Wheeler is a former coal industry lobbyist who previously worked as a legislative aide to Oklahoma Republican Senator Jim Inhofe. Wheeler’s first job out of law school was at the EPA, where he worked on toxic chemical, pollution prevention, and right-to-know issues in the mid-1990s. Wheeler was confirmed deputy EPA administrator in April.
Here is a non-comprehensive list of Pruitt’s scandals, summarized:
- Lived for much of 2017 in a Capitol Hill townhouse owned by the wife of an energy lobbyist while paying below-market rent
- Fell behind on payments for his $50-a-night condo
- Insisted on taking private jets, military jets, or, in a pinch, first-class commercial flights, which he claimed was a security measure. In one month alone, last June, Pruitt and his aides spent $90,000 of taxpayer money on flights
- Toyed with the idea of leasing a $100,000-per-month private jet using taxpayer money
- Bypassed the White House to give “substantial raises” to aides who were loyal to him, while reshuffling EPA employees who dared criticize his actions
- Requested $70,000 to replace two desks in his office, including an upgraded bulletproof desk
- Requested a bulletproof SUV “with so-called run flat tires, which keep a vehicle moving even when sustaining gunfire”
- Pulled 18 EPA agents out of the field to be Pruitt’s round-the-clock security detail at a cost of roughly $2 million a year. (No previous EPA administrator had ever received such protection)
- Installed a $43,000 soundproof phone booth in his office
- Directed his drivers to use lights and sirens for routine trips around Washington, “including at least one trip to Le Diplomate, a trendy French restaurant that he frequented”
- Reassigned the lead agent in his security detail after the agent told Pruitt that sirens could only be used in emergencies
- Directed aides to come up with excuses for him and his lobbyist friends to travel to countries he wanted to visit under the guise of official business
- Allowed a former Comcast lobbyist to help plan and tag along on a six-figure, taxpayer-funded trip to Morocco
- Dined with an alleged child abuser while on a taxpayer-funded trip to Rome
- Signed off on $3,200 worth of stationery items, including 12 silver fountain pens from a high-end Washington jeweler as “gifts to the Administrator’s foreign counterparts and dignitaries”
- Directed an aide to procure a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel in Washington
- Directed an aide to reach out in an effort to get his wife her own Chick-fil-A franchise. When that failed, he directed aides to shake down Republican donors to find her a job
- Ordered his aides to run around town in search of fancy lotion from the Ritz Carlton
- Ordered aides to get him upscale snacks from Dean and Deluca
- Ordered a top aide to search for housing for him “on personal time”
- Ordered aides to book his travel to the Rose Bowl and secured tickets from a University of Oklahoma regent with ties to the oil industry
- Attended a University of Kentucky basketball game in the personal seats of a billionaire coal executive Joseph Craft III. Craft and his wife donated more than $2 million to Trump’s presidential campaign, after which Trump named Craft’s wife ambassador to Canada
- Kept a secret calendar to hide controversial meetings and calls