Scott Pruitt – What Went Wrong?

The head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt has resigned due to claims of ethics misconduct.

Scott Pruitt was under scrutiny over first-class travel at taxpayer expense, security spending, connections with lobbyists and industry groups, accusations of using his office for favours, a soundproof phone booth for his office and his rental of a high-end condo from an energy lobbyist’s wife.

Meet Scott Pruitt - Environment Protection Agency Administrator who has resiged after ethics investigations. Cartoon caricature APT

On July 5 2018, Trump tweeted:

“I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this. The Senate confirmed Deputy at EPA, Andrew Wheeler, will on Monday assume duties as the acting Administrator of the EPA. I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda. We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright!”

First-class travel at taxpayers expense

Pruitt has repeatedly flown first class. There are government rules which allow for upgrades in certain situations, such as when the flight is over 14 horus or if there are exceptional security concerns. Arguably none of these apply to Pruitt’s travel in first class, this cost US taxpayers $92,700

Security spending

Pruitt received 24/7 protection from a security detail roughly three times his predecessor, this cost US taxpayers $3,500,000. This includes travel for agents who accompany him on trips.

Connections with lobbyists and industry groups

Pruitt is a close ally of the fossil fuel industry, and was known for questioning the human role in climate change. As Oklahoma’s former attorney general, he fought against many of the environmental rules implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Pruitt also instrumental last year in lobbying Trump to withdraw the United States from the global 2015 Paris climate accord to combat global warming.

Pruitt also visited Morocco at a cost of $100,000. The trip was arranged by lobbyist Richard Smotkin, a friend of Pruitt who subsequently received a lucrative contract from the Moroccan government.

Accusations of using his office for favors

Emails obtained by the Sierra Club environmental group showed Pruitt had an aide contact the chief executive of a fast-food chain about his wife becoming a franchise owner.

The Washington Post reported Pruitt had aides try to get her a job at the Republican Attorneys General Association with a salary topping $200,000.

Soundproof phone booth

A soundproof booth was installed in Pruitt’s office at a cost of $42,729. This included CCTV removal ($7,978), concrete ($3,470), drop ceiling ($3,361), patch and paint job ($3,350) and soundproof booth ($24,570).

Pruitt testified that the phone booth was:

“Necessary for me to be able to do my job,” and

“There were not proper controls in place,” regarding the expense.

Rental of high-end condo from an energy lobbyist’s wife

Pruitt had been renting a room in a condo from Vicki and Steven Hart, lobbyists whose firm has lobbied the EPA on behalf of an Oklahoma energy company. His daughter also reportedly lived there while she was interning in Washington.


Democratic US Representative Gerry Connolly said after his resignation:

“Scott Pruitt’s reign of venality is finally over. He made swamp creatures blush with his shameless excesses. All tolerated because Trump liked his zealotry. Shame.”

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