This should not be considered a comprehensive list because, honestly, so many negative stories about Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt dropped over the past 16 hours I believe I lost track of a few.
The New York Times reported last night that the EPA approved a pipeline project connected to the owners of the lobbyist condo he was living in. Moreover, the pipeline company had just recently been fined for a significant oil spill in Michigan.
The signoff by the E.P.A. came even though the agency, at the end of the Obama administration, had moved to fine Enbridge $61 million in connection with a 2010 pipeline episode that sent hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan and other waterways. The fine was the second-largest in the history of the Clean Water Act, behind the penalty imposed after the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
A spokesman for Williams & Jensen said that the lobbying firm did not intervene with the E.P.A. or Mr. Pruitt on the Enbridge pipeline expansion either before or after Mr. Pruitt was living in the condo owned in part by Vicki Hart, the wife of J. Steven Hart, the chairman of the firm.
If you buy that, well, you know, I have some doomsday insurance to sell you.
The Washington Post reported last night that Pruitt sought to lease a private jet for his travels last year which would have cost even more than the first class flights he booked.
The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said the agency ultimately did not move forward with the plan because it would have been prohibitively expensive. Pruitt’s aides had contacted NetJets, a well-known firm that leases such planes, and received a cost estimate of roughly $100,000 a month, the officials said.
The Atlantic reported last night that Pruitt sought a pay raise for his two closest cronies at the EPA and, when the White House rejected his request, he exploited a loophole in federal law to grant them raises himself.
A provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act allows the EPA administrator to hire up to 30 people into the agency, without White House or congressional approval. The provision, meant to help expedite the hiring of experts and allow for more flexible staffing, became law in 1996. In past administrations, it has been used to hire specialists into custom-made roles in especially stressed offices, according to Bob Perciasepe, a former acting EPA administrator.
After the White House rejected their request, Pruitt’s team studied the particulars of the Safe Drinking Water provision, according to the source with direct knowledge of these events. By reappointing Greenwalt and Hupp under this authority, they learned, Pruitt could exercise total control over their contracts and grant the raises on his own.
In related news, the Washington Post also reported this morning that one of the aides Pruitt granted a raise to has been acting as a real estate agent for Pruitt on the side.
Millan Hupp, 26, who serves as Pruitt’s director of scheduling and advance, contacted a local real estate firm last summer as the EPA chief was moving out of a $50-per-night rental condo owned by the wife of an energy and transportation lobbyist. Three individuals, including current and former EPA employees, said Hupp was the point person for Pruitt’s search.
Between July and September, Hupp corresponded with a real estate company and on some evenings and weekends went to view properties for rent or sale, according to two of the individuals. She typically used her private email but at times contacted the company during work hours. At other times, Pruitt himself viewed properties, the individuals said.
And finally, the Daily Beast reported last night that Republican congressmen held fundraisers at the same lobbyist condo Pruitt was living in.
A review of fundraising invitations reveals that at least three members of Congress had fundraisers at the now-controversial Capital Hill brownstone during the same period of time that Pruitt was living there. Several of those fundraisers took place on dates when Pruitt was in Washington, D.C., according to a cross-reference of the invitations and Pruitt’s schedule.
There were reports this morning that Trump personally called Pruitt to support him, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. The last two cabinet members fired by Trump were given his assurances less than 24 hours before he fired them.
Trump clearly doesn't care about corruption, but he might care if Pruitt starts soaking up more air time on the news than he does.