The EPA's inspector general may need to expand the scope of his investigation and look beyond administrator Scott Pruitt's spy-proof safety booth.
Pruitt has reportedly hired an outside firm to help him manage the extraordinarily bad headlines his behavior and policies are generating.
According to federal contracting records, earlier this month Pruitt’s office inked a no-bid $120,000 contract with Definers Corp., a Virginia-based public relations firm founded by Matt Rhoades, who managed Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. Following Romney’s defeat, Rhoades established America Rising, an ostensibly independent political action committee that works closely with the Republican National Committee and Republican candidates to mine damning information on opponents. Other higher-ups at Definers include former RNC research director Joe Pounder, who’s been described as “a master of opposition research,” and senior vice president Colin Reed, an oppo-research guru billed as “among the leaders of the war on [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren.”
If this sounds like a taxpayer funded lobbying campaign against environmental regulation, it's because that's exactly what it is. That's what Scott Pruitt is.
Pruitt does not believe in environmental regulation. He does not believe regulation is his job. Pruitt believes his job is to protect industries from the Environmental Protection Agency; the agency he oversees.
This is entirely consistent with Pruitt's behavior as the former attorney general of Oklahoma. As the state's attorney general, Pruitt took orders directly from the industry and filed lawsuits against the Obama administration and the EPA on their behalf. He's more or less doing the same now, but instead of filing lawsuits he's reshaping the agency to ignore or effectively eliminate regulations by cutting enforcement of regulations. You may recall that Pruitt reassigned dozens of the agency's enforcement officers to his personal security detail.
Why else would he need a sound-proof booth in his office? Why would he need to hire a private relations firm? He's almost certainly something, or several somethings, illegal.
I think it's just a matter of time until Pruitt is directly implicated and possibly sued following an environmental catastrophe.