Ethics violations and corruption seem to be a trade mark of the Trump administration. Private Jets, $31,000 office tables, private security forces and sound-proof phone booths have all been part of the problem. Now, EPA Chief Scott Pruitt seems to have taken it one step further.
ABC News recently disclosed that Pruitt had been renting a Washington apartment for a terrific price. The problem is the property belongs to the wife of a high-profile oil and gas lobbyist who contributed to Pruitt’s political campaigns and has a liquefied natural gas producer as his client. Pruitt paid just $50.00 per night for the apartment where he often entertained industry guests.
In March 2017, the EPA approved a Natural Gas pipeline for a company represented by the apartment owners firm while Pruitt was living there. Was it a coincidence?
After living in the apartment almost for free, Pruitt became a big fan of liquefied natural gas, a product his landlord represents. He was such a huge fan, he jetted off to Morocco in December to pitch “the potential benefit of liquified natural gas imports on Morocco’s economy,” flying in first class with his private security and other staff. All the expenses for the trip were paid for by the US taxpayers.
Pruitt’s Morocco trip was one of his most expensive, but it wasn’t his only travel extravagance. Between military, charter, and first-class flights, Pruitt spent more than $168,000 on air travel in his first year in office, even when internal emails showed cheaper options were available.
Pruitt will not travel alone. Pruitt and his entourage, including aides and security staffers, racked up $90,000 in just one week last summer. He frequently travels from DC to Oklahoma (his home) on private charter flights.
Pruitt has surrounded himself with an unprecedented round-the-clock security detail that has accompanied him on trips to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl. CNN calculated that Pruitt’s security detail costs taxpayers $2 million per year, not including travel, training, and equipment.
Why would a person in charge of protecting our environment need to be protected from the public? The answer may be because he is doing exactly opposite of what he is supposed to be doing. Shortly after starting his new job, Pruitt spent $3,000 to sweep his office for surveillance bugs. He then spent $2,000 to install biometric locks with fingerprint readers. He also spent more than $42,000 to build a phone booth in his office. He hides his schedule from the public. His own employees need an escort to see him and aren’t allowed to take notes at meetings where they are required to leave all electronic devices, including cell phones, outside the meeting room.
Spending lavishly on travel is not necessarily a sign of corruption (though it is a sign of poor judgement). However, living in an apartment owned by a lobbyist whose job it is to influence you for almost no rent is a clear sign you have no moral judgement. Pruitt’s complete lack of ethical standards begs the question, just how low is the bar set by the President when it comes to ethics? Apparently lower than anybody thought.
The Washington Establishment will never rein in government spending, waste, fraud and abuse. A great thinker and outsider is needed.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2011