EPA chief Scott Pruitt's long list of controversies

A steady stream of negative headlines involving Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt in recent ...

Posted: Apr 7, 2018 10:09 AM
Updated: Apr 7, 2018 10:09 AM

A steady stream of negative headlines involving Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt in recent weeks and months has official Washington wondering whether the embattled agency chief can hold onto his job.

During his time at EPA, Pruitt has worked to carry out key elements of President Donald Trump's agenda, overseeing a rollback of Obama-era environmental regulations. But he has also been caught up in a series of unfolding controversies over everything from first-class travel, security expenses, and a decision to rent a room in Washington, DC, tied to an energy lobbyist.

When Pruitt took up his post at EPA, he was already a controversial figure. As Oklahoma attorney general, he sued the agency he now leads over environmental regulations and suggested that the debate over global warming is "far from settled."

Here's a look at the lengthy list of controversies and allegations that Pruitt has become embroiled in during his time at the administration:

- Multiple senior EPA officials, including a career official and political appointees, were sidelined or demoted after they raised concerns or pushed back on the amount of money Pruitt has spent as EPA chief on expenses such as travel as well as his management of the agency, two sources confirmed to CNN.

An EPA spokesman has disputed the claims, calling the employees in question "disgruntled."

- In late March, ABC News reported that Pruitt stayed in a condo co-owned by Vicki Hart, a lobbyist whose husband, J. Steven Hart, works for a firm that has lobbied on energy issues. A Bloomberg report said the deal on the condo gave Pruitt a price of $50 a night for a bedroom, and only on nights when he slept there.

CNN has reported that White House officials are exasperated by the housing controversy.

- The Washington Post reported that Pruitt knew and approved of a plan to grant large raises to two aides -- a timeline that appears to clash with claims the EPA administrator made in an interview with Fox News earlier in this week. During the interview, Pruitt said he only found out that aides got raises the day before. In the interview, Pruitt said the raises "should not have happened." The Atlantic has reported that Pruitt defied the White House to grant the raises and a pair of Senate Democrats are now calling for an investigation. The inspector general was already auditing how Pruitt's leadership uses "administratively determined positions."

- Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse sent a letter to the inspector general of the EPA that said Pruitt's constant security included even personal trips to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl.

- The Environmental Integrity Project obtained heavily redacted documents from the EPA that showed the agency spent more than $30,000 on security for Pruitt's 2017 trip to Italy.

- A report from The Washington Post in mid-March said documents the EPA provided to Congress outlined further travel expenses from Pruitt, totaling about $68,000 and including a nearly $20,000, four-day trip to Morocco and a series of first class flights.

- CNN reported in early March that Pruitt was one of four Cabinet-level officials the White House scolded in February over stories about questionable ethics at their agencies.

- In February, questions over Pruitt's travel prompted House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy to announce an inquiry into Pruitt's practices, and in response to the committee's request for documents, the EPA did not appear to turn over travel waivers granted to Pruitt for first-class travel.

- Pruitt defended his first-class travel in February by saying it was for security purposes, citing the "toxic environment" in politics and implying he was less likely to face threats in a first-class crowd.

- EPA documents reviewed by CNN in February showed attorneys for Pruitt's office justifying a series of charter flights last summer, including some $14,000 expended on travel around Oklahoma.

- In early October, the EPA inspector general said it was expanding its probe into Pruitt's travel, and the EPA told CNN that Pruitt used both a private plane and military jet to travel four times instead of flying commercial -- at a price of $60,000.

- Government records showed the EPA granted a roughly $25,000 contract last August for a highly secure, sound-proof booth -- known as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) -- for Pruitt. Former EPA employees said the agency had already maintained a private room.

- In August, the inspector general for the EPA said it was investigating Pruitt's travel back home to Oklahoma after a hotline complaint and expressions of concern from Congress followed travel records obtained by the Environmental Integrity Project that showed Pruitt spent an extensive amount of time traveling.

- EPA is fighting a lawsuit from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility that alleges the Pruitt administration is deliberately avoiding creating written records of meetings and decisions (so that there are no documents subject to leaking or FOIA) and that Pruitt "uses phones other than his own to deal with important EPA-related matters so the calls do not show up in his call logs."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 12663
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion909511650
Lake48568884
Allen36004640
Hamilton32182398
St. Joseph30166513
Elkhart25453419
Vanderburgh21300382
Tippecanoe20143203
Johnson16407361
Porter16042276
Hendricks15877300
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Monroe10379163
Delaware9870179
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Kosciusko8582111
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Floyd7243170
Wayne6648192
Grant6446157
Boone610989
Morgan6106126
Dubois5925112
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Cass547299
Marshall5439105
Henry542594
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Ohio54011
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 974480

Reported Deaths: 16750
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1125851214
Cuyahoga964441832
Hamilton736841034
Montgomery47424903
Summit40474802
Butler35678505
Lucas35588685
Stark29495803
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Mahoning19532537
Lake18471318
Clermont18459201
Delaware16537116
Licking15037189
Fairfield14587180
Trumbull14381413
Greene13626218
Medina13448226
Clark12319248
Wood11604163
Portage11078164
Allen10804216
Richland10334183
Miami10048189
Muskingum8204112
Columbiana8160200
Pickaway8079107
Tuscarawas8063227
Marion8006125
Wayne7898193
Erie6925140
Ross6161128
Geauga6097136
Hancock6013116
Ashtabula5993152
Scioto597780
Lawrence527218
Union515237
Darke5040114
Belmont497659
Huron4838107
Jefferson4814107
Sandusky4785108
Seneca4709107
Washington470991
Athens465447
Mercer459180
Auglaize456480
Shelby442479
Knox4045101
Putnam400090
Madison394253
Ashland381381
Fulton381258
Defiance372983
Brown372244
Crawford359096
Logan356072
Preble353678
Clinton341152
Highland328649
Ottawa324869
Williams302962
Jackson290745
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Guernsey288444
Perry270447
Fayette269441
Morrow260934
Henry247058
Hardin246558
Holmes243493
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Van Wert230154
Gallia223131
Adams217436
Pike216026
Wyandot211747
Hocking194754
Carroll181641
Paulding160530
Meigs135930
Noble129333
Monroe116927
Morgan101119
Harrison100724
Vinton76613
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