Friday, April 6, 2018

Chief of Enrichment and Protection Administration under fire

Out of the Black Lagoon, formerly known as “The Swamp”, formerly known as the “Trump Administration”, a Creature emerges … watch the horrifying story.

It used to be called the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s current head has redefined its mission. It now exists to enrich said head and protect him from imaginary threats. In my opinion, this guy is a paranoid crook. Evidence follows.

The Huffington Post carried a summary of how EPA chief Scott Pruitt Reportedly Lied About Knowledge Of Staff Raises. The report adds to a growing mountain of ethical issues dogging Pruitt’s tenure.

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt both knew about and supported massive raises for two of his longtime aides, despite denying having any knowledge of the action, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.

Citing two EPA officials familiar with the decision and a White House official, the Post said Pruitt instructed agency officials to give a $56,765 raise to Sarah Greenwalt and a $28,130 raise to Millan Hupp. Both women worked with Pruitt in Oklahoma where he served as attorney general and followed him to Washington, according to The Atlantic, which first reported the salary bumps.

Just a day earlier, Pruitt was subject to a blistering line of questioning from Fox News’ Ed Henry, who asked if the EPA administrator had any knowledge of the pay increases, which were carried out through a provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act after the White House rejected them.

“I found out this yesterday and I corrected the action, and we are in the process of finding out how it took place and correcting that going forward,” Pruitt said after attempting to duck the question several times. Henry later asked if the EPA chief was “embarrassed” by the size of the raises.

The report adds to a growing mountain of ethical issues dogging Pruitt’s tenure, ranging from his sweetheart rental of a condo on Capitol Hill to the ongoing inquiry into his first-class air travel. On Thursday, the Post and the Times reported that several high-ranking EPA officials have been reassigned or demoted for questioning the administration’s spending.

One of Pruitt’s top advisers, Samantha Dravis, resigned on Wednesday and his chief of staff has also considered leaving as pressure grows and lawmakers increase calls for his resignation, the Times also reported this week.

“The president thinks that he’s done a good job, particularly on the deregulation front,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Wednesday when asked about Pruitt’s future. “But again, we take this seriously and we’re looking into it, and we’ll let you know when we’re finished.”

The thing is, when Trump says you are doing a good job, it is the kiss of death. Just take the case of Chief of Staff John Kelly. The Daily Star carried this AP report: ‘Tired of being told no,’ Trump freezes out chief of staff.

Trump recently told one confidant that he was “tired of being told no” by Kelly and has instead chosen to simply not tell Kelly things at all, according to a person who was not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

In Trump’s West Wing, once the rumors begin that an aide’s exit is forthcoming, the “stink” on that staffer never leaves, according to one of the nearly dozen White House aides, former administration officials and outside advisers who spoke to The Associated Press under the same conditions.

But I digress. Returning to Pruitt’s Problems:

Phillip Bump at the Washington Post has a longer list of Pruitt’s transgressions in All of the reasons EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is under fire (as of now). Here’s the short version.

… If you’re reading this at any point after, say, 6 p.m. Thursday, we can’t assure you that this list is fully complete, given the recent speed at which these stories have been popping up.

  • Pruitt demanded 24-hour-a-day security.
  • He installed a $25,000, soundproof phone system in his office.
  • Pruitt flew first class at a cost of more than $100,000 — plus charter and military flights.
  • The EPA explored hiring a private jet service at a cost of $100,000 a month.
  • When he first moved to Washington, Pruitt was staying at a townhouse owned by the wife of a lobbyist, at a rate of $50 a night.
  • Pruitt asked a subordinate to help him find housing, apparently violating ethics rules.
  • When that subordinate and another employee were denied raises, Pruitt apparently used a loophole in the law to significantly boost their pay. Update: The Post reported Thursday night that Pruitt did in fact approve the raises, though he didn’t personally enact them.
  • Pruitt exiled internal critics of his spending and leadership to new jobs or demoted them. Thursday, the Times reported that at least five officials with the EPA, including one Trump appointee, faced repercussions after confronting Pruitt about his management of the agency.

We should not be surprised that GOPlin leaders, at least some of them, are defending Pruitt.

Several congressional Republicans, as well as some governors, conservative groups and pundits, rallied to Pruitt’s side. Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas both publicly backed him Thursday, as did governors Matt Bevin (Ky.), Phil Bryant (Miss.) and Pete Ricketts (Neb.). Bevin tweeted that the administrator should “ignore the nattering nabobs of negativism,” invoking a phrase that Vice President Spiro T. Agnew used in 1969 while blasting the media.

I wonder what those folks will have to say when at long last Pruitt gets the boot. For that matter, pick any of the offenses listed above and ask these supporters to defend Pruitt’s actions.

And what does Trump think of all this?

Trump continued to express his confidence in Pruitt when asked Thursday.

“I think he’s done a fantastic job,” Trump said. “I think he’s done an incredible job. He’’s been very courageous. It hasn’t been easy, but I think he’s done a fantastic job.”

Was he bothered by the various reports about Pruitt’s behavior?

“I have to look at them,” Trump replied.

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