Unfit to Serve at EPA
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A government official intentionally misleads the public, putting Americans at risk. The news this week was full of reports about how former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn lied to his bosses, his colleagues, and the American people. In his resignation letter, Flynn wrote that he had provided “incomplete information” about his dealings with Russia. Then, in his daily briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that Flynn was asked to resign due to “eroding trust” in his ability to do the job.
“Incomplete information” and “eroding trust” are perfect descriptors of another one of this president’s picks: the just-confirmed new head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt.
Throughout both his tenure as Oklahoma’s attorney general and his confirmation process for administrator of the Environmental Protection Administration, Scott Pruitt failed to answer questions and refused to disclose necessary information.
During his confirmation hearing, Pruitt misled, failed to answer, and stonewalled Congress about his political fundraising practices and refused to disclose just how cozy he is with the oil and gas industry. When asked during his confirmation hearing whether he had ever solicited funds from fossil fuel companies, Pruitt claimed he was unable to remember. Sure enough, though, plenty of correspondence proves that he did exactly that.
And that’s before we even get to the issue of Pruitt and his emails. For years, some Republicans were obsessed with emails. They couldn’t talk about or investigate emails enough. In fact, they based an entire presidential campaign on uncovering emails. After the election, though, this obsession with emails disappeared faster than a Snapchat message.
After Pruitt failed to disclose emails during his confirmation hearing, a watchdog group filed a lawsuit to force him to release the thousands of messages between his office and the fossil fuel companies that have wreaked havoc on Oklahoma for years, including the ongoing earthquake epidemic. After the group, the Center for Media and Democracy, filed this lawsuit, Pruitt responded to the first of the group’s nine open records suits, releasing just 411 of the more than 3,000 documents requested. Just yesterday, an Oklahoma county judge ruled that Pruitt must turn over the rest. That, alone, was more than enough reason to hold off on a confirmation vote. Yet the Republican leadership went ahead anyway and every Republican senator except Maine’s Susan Collins voted to install a man who could be the most dangerous of all President Trump’s appointees.
The American people deserve better. Yet, as Trump made clear in his press conference yesterday, he and the senators who voted for Pruitt don’t consider themselves accountable to the American people — unless they voted for him.
That doesn’t change the fact that Scott Pruitt, like Michael Flynn, is not fit for office.