Swamp Thing: Fox Interview is Brutal for Pruitt

April 5, 2018

Swamp has been declared a protected wetland.

This is so, so, smarmy.

Update – New York Times:

For instance, in a conversation with one of Mr. Pruitt’s closest aides, Mr. Chmielewski sharply objected to a proposal to buy a $100,000-a-month charter aircraft membership that would have allowed Mr. Pruitt to take unlimited private jet trips for official business, according to two administration officials. The membership was not purchased.

Mr. Chmielewski also objected to a proposal to spend about $70,000 to replace two desks in Mr. Pruitt’s office suite, including his personal desk and one at a security station outside his office. Asked about the proposed desk purchases, Mr. Wilcox, the E.P.A. spokesman, said that “the administrator never considered the proposal.” Pasquale Perrotta, who became head of Mr. Pruitt’s security detail after Mr. Weese was removed, insisted that the security desk be upgraded to a bulletproof model, according to current and former E.P.A. employees with direct knowledge of the discussions.

The bulletproof security desk was not purchased, but two new desks were ordered for Mr. Pruitt’s personal office: a brown maple wood stand-up desk, with brass locks, that was purchased from a craftsman and an oversize desk with ornate woodworking that had been in a federal government warehouse in Virginia and was refurbished for Mr. Pruitt at a cost of $2,075. E.P.A. employees gawked at the size and grandeur of Mr. Pruitt’s refurbished desk, with some comparing it to the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, officials said in interviews.

Mr. Weese, the security official, questioned Mr. Pruitt’s desire to use flashing lights and sirens in his motorcade — a perk more commonly associated with the presidency — according to three of the people who worked with or for the E.P.A.

Mr. Pruitt, who often ran late, wanted to use the lights and sirens to expedite local trips in Washington to the airport or to dinner, including at least one trip to Le Diplomate, a trendy French restaurant that he frequented. Such use was not consistent with agency policy, but Mr. Weese was unsuccessful in stopping it.

The agency said Mr. Pruitt played no role in deciding when the sirens and lights would be used. “The security detail for the past 15 years has used them in very limited fashion,” Mr. Wilcox said.

Mr. Weese was also reluctant to sign off on requests for Mr. Pruitt to travel in first class based on security concerns. Mr. Allen, Mr. Chmielewski and Mr. Reeder, too, questioned the use of taxpayer money to pay for first-class airfare. Only after Mr. Weese was replaced by Mr. Perrotta did Mr. Pruitt regularly fly first class, agency staff members said.

There were also questions raised about a request that Mr. Pruitt be issued a bulletproof sport utility vehicle with so-called run flat tires, which keep a vehicle moving even when sustaining gunfire. And they challenged Mr. Pruitt’s expanded security detail of approximately 20 members, three times the size of his predecessor’s. Unlike his most recent counterpart under Mr. Obama, Gina McCarthy, Mr. Pruitt has security officials follow him wherever he travels, and also stay on duty overnight.

“He wanted to be treated like he was the president,” said David Schnare, a prominent conservative lawyer and climate change skeptic, who served on the Trump administration transition team at the E.P.A., after an earlier 30-year stint at the agency that started in the late 1970s.

CBS News:

It started last month when it became known that Pruitt rented a room in a Capital Hill condo from February through the end of July 2017. The room cost him about $50 a night, or roughly $1,500 a month. Administration officials privately admit the terms of the rent were favorable, and Pruitt only spent $6,100 in rent, which is $2,150 less than someone paying that rent every night.

Pruitt’s daughter would also sometimes stay the night in the condo when he wasn’t there and she was interning at the White House. An official told CBS News said Pruitt paid the rent for his daughter when she stayed there. The condo was also used sometimes for GOP fundraisers, a fact that an administration official said was because it was close to Capitol Hill and cheap compared to some other alternatives. When Pruitt once fell ill on the job, went home early, and was unreachable by his security detail, the detail broke into the condo. The EPA wound up paying $2,460 in damages for the incident, which was first reported by ABC News.

EPA ethics officials signed off Pruitt’s living arrangement. “As EPA career ethics officials stated in a memo, Administrator Pruitt’s housing arrangement for both himself and family was not a gift and the lease was consistent with federal ethics regulations,” EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox told CBS News. Still, renting an apartment from the wife of an energy lobbyist isn’t exactly a great look for the EPA administrator, and has raised eyebrows in Washington.

Here, University of Michigan professor Andrew Hoffman gives a history lesson on the last time a conservative President tried to undermine the EPA.
Noting that the Republican Party of Reagan’s day would be seen as RINO Progressive Snowflakes today, still, the pendulum swings…

An energy lobbyist?

Yes. Pruitt’s landlord was Vicki Hart, and her husband is Steven Hart, a lobbyist who represents a number of energy concerns. Hart is the chairman and CEO of Williams and Jensen, which represents Exxon Mobil and Cheniere Energy, a liquefied natural gas exporter, among other energy companies. But a spokesman for Hart told CBS News that “describing Mr. Hart as an energy or EPA lobbyist during the Trump administration is false as he did not lobby the EPA or the [Department of Energy] in 2017 or 2018.”

So Hart didn’t lobby Pruitt?

Well, here’s where things get tricky. According to the Associated Press, Pruitt and some EPA staffers spent $40,000 in public funds to travel to Morocco and encourage that country to import more liquefied natural gas from the U.S. And the only company currently exporting liquefied natural gas from the U.S. is Cheniere Energy, a Hart client that is also building a pipeline in Oklahoma.

The AP also reports that in March 2017, Pruitt had a meeting with the CEO and vice president of OGE Energy, an electricity company. OGE Energy is another client of Hart’s firm, and the meeting was facilitated by George Baker, a lobbyist who works for Hart and who was in attendance at the meeting. At the time, Pruitt was still renting the room from Hart’s wife. Later that year, the EPA decided to rewrite an Obama-era regulation that affected the kind of power plants OGE operates.

According to Open Secrets, OGE paid Hart’s company $400,000 for lobbying in 2017, while Cheniere Energy paid $80,000.




2 Responses to “Swamp Thing: Fox Interview is Brutal for Pruitt”

  1. realthog Says:

    It’s funny how these things are called “ethics violations” while Pruitt’s actions to shorten the lifespans and seriously handicap the lives of untold thousands of Americans, plus others around the globe, all for the financial welfare of his buddies, are somehow regarded as ethically aboveboard.

  2. While draining the swamp, obviously the trough has been neglected!

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