On Thursday, Slate published a list compiled by Mother Jones of ongoing scandals involving Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt. Meanwhile, New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait did a Thursday afternoon post about Pruitt scandal developments that broke just on Thursday. Here’s a list of all of them combined, plus a bonus scandal involving a “fitness model.”
1. Pruitt lived in a lobbyist’s fancy condo on what seem to have been very friendly terms—paying only $50 a night, and not being required to pay for nights in which he didn’t sleep in D.C.—that seemingly would not have been available to a member of the general public seeking to rent space in a prime location. He also claimed erroneously that the lobbyist in question did not have business before the EPA.
2. He hired a banker who’s been banned from the banking industry for life by the federal government to help run the federal government’s Superfund program.
3. He gave large raises to two of his aides even after the White House rejected his initial request to do so.
4. He spent $43,000 in public funds to install a soundproof phone booth in his office, a feature which no previous EPA administrator has needed, and has spent other public funds on seemingly unnecessary luxury travel accommodations and unprecedented around-the-clock personal security. He reportedly replaced one of his security officials when the official refused to turn on his car’s emergency sirens in order to cut through routine traffic and demoted several other officials who challenged his extravagant use of public funds. (The New York Times story about the demotions reports that two of the officials involved were also subjected to internal inspector-general investigations on charges that were ultimately determined to be baseless. Hmm.)
5. He erroneously claimed at his confirmation hearing to have never used a personal email account for public business.
6. He’s openly collaborated with industry groups to encourage their lobbying against federal environmental regulations, which may violate ethics rules given that it’s his job to manage federal environmental regulations.
Slate and Chait both missed another great Pruitt story from Thursday, too, which was Salon’s report that Pruitt bought an Oklahoma property in 2011 just days before a court ruled that it had been fraudulently transferred to a “fitness model” named Pamela Rex by her boyfriend, a developer who disappeared after defaulting on a $3.6 million loan. After buying the property from Ms. Rex, Pruitt sold it within months to one of his top donors for a $70,000 profit. Hmm.
That’s at least seven separate scandals, two of which—the sweetheart rental deal and the extravagant spending/retaliation against critics—are seemingly as big or bigger than other scandals that have precipitated Cabinet resignations and firings even in the Trump administration. For his part, Pruitt’s boss tweeted Friday morning that Pruitt is doing “a great job” despite being “under siege.” The siege reference seems to fit with what informed White House observers have been saying about Pruitt’s strategy for defending himself within the administration, which is to portray his situation as the result of a left/media attack rather than, like, the result of repeated, disgraceful personal and professional failures. Fun times! Fun times.