It was previously reported that taxpayer-funded lobbyist and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt has hired a private public relations firm to help him manage his bad headlines, but it looks like they might be doing more than that.
The relations firm hired by Pruitt is affiliated with a conservative group that's been diving into employee emails looking for evidence that they're anti-Pruitt or anti-Trump according to employees who spoke to the New York Times. They say their emails are were searched through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests after they spoke out in public.
The requests came from a Virginia-based lawyer working with America Rising, a Republican campaign research group that specializes in helping party candidates and conservative groups find damaging information on political rivals, and which, in this case, was looking for information that could undermine employees who had criticized the E.P.A.
Now a company affiliated with America Rising, named Definers Public Affairs, has been hired by the E.P.A. to provide “media monitoring,” in a move the agency said was intended to keep better track of newspaper and video stories about E.P.A. operations nationwide. [...]
“This is a witch hunt against E.P.A. employees who are only trying to protect human health and the environment,” said Gary Morton, an E.P.A. employee in Philadelphia, who works on preventing spills from underground storage tanks. His emails were targeted seven days after he participated in a union rally in March challenging proposed budget cuts. “What they are doing is trying to intimidate and bully us into silence,” he said.
There's nothing wrong with combing through the emails of government employees to make sure they're doing their job, but that's just it, isn't it? Pruitt and his private henchmen believe agency employees doing their job to protect public health and the environment is a bad thing.
This isn't going to look good in court when the lawsuits begin. Pruitt will have to explain himself when his culture of intimidation and intentional malfeasance leads to preventable disasters.
Pruitt may not believe in environmental protection, but his ideology won't matter when people are dead or dying. And he better believe the White House will throw him under the bus without a second thought when something really bad happens.
Other members of Trump's cabinet may have greater responsibilities, but I believe Scott Pruitt is most likely to get people killed. Environmental disasters that we don't even know about yet could be unfolding right now.