Scott Pruitt: Why he hasn’t been fired
How does Scott Pruitt still have a job? asked Matt Lewis in TheDailyBeast.com. The arrogant director of the Environmental Protection Agency is “so comically corrupt that it’s become impossible to keep track of all the investigations into his unscrupulousness.” In the last month alone, it’s been revealed that Pruitt used his office to try to secure a Chick-fil-A franchise for his wife, accepted courtside basketball tickets from a billionaire coal executive, and used taxpayer money to have his 24/7 security detail scour Ritz-Carlton hotels for his favorite moisturizing lotion. Pruitt is now facing at least 17 federal investigations into scandals ranging from his lavish spending on first-class airfare to the $50-a-night condo deal he secured from an energy-industry lobbyist. So far, President Trump is sticking by his swampiest Cabinet member. “But the case for firing is getting almost too overwhelming to ignore.”
There’s a simple explanation for how Pruitt has managed to hang on this long, said Amber Phillips in The Washington Post. “Trump likes him.” Not only has Pruitt delivered deregulatory policies that Trump can brag about in coal country—the two have personal chemistry. Pruitt has reportedly become one of Trump’s favorite sounding boards for his frustrations with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The EPA chief also has a strong following with one of Trump’s most vital constituencies: evangelical Christians, said Brian Palmer in Slate.com. Pruitt built up “a bulwark of unwavering Christian support” as an Oklahoma politician, fighting abortion rights, same-sex marriage, and efforts to teach evolution. Evangelicals are also deeply skeptical of environmentalism, which they think elevates nature and God’s lesser creations over human beings.
But even Republicans are growing tired of Pruitt’s “questionable judgment,” said Kevin Williamson in the New York Post, and fear he’s putting the deregulatory agenda in danger with his “tawdry” behavior. “The man has become a distraction from the message.” Actually, Pruitt’s policy decisions are a bigger scandal than his corruption, said Umair Irfan in Vox.com. Just last week, the EPA handed a massive victory to the chemical industry, ruling that from now on, no attempt will be made to assess the damage a potential carcinogen can cause people through air pollution and soil and water contamination. That’s far more damaging than sending bodyguards out to find moisturizer.