EPA’s Scott Pruitt Now Wants Taxpayers Contribution To Pay His Mounting Legal Bills: Report
Not satisfied with misusing taxpayers funds to pay for his lavish lifestyle, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt now wants people to give him money to cover his mounting legal bills.
During testimony before the Senate appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday, Pruitt confirmed for the first time that he has set up a legal defense fund to deal with his snowballing ethical improprieties and wants the American people to foot the bill by sending him their hard-earned money as donations, Vox reports.
Pruitt deflected and denied the allegations of wrongdoing from lawmakers, though there are at least a dozen inquiries into the EPA under his watch, and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) already concluded that at least one indiscretion, Pruitt’s $43,000 phone booth, violated two laws.
Dealing with this deluge of accusations is time-consuming and expensive, and a legal defense fund would provide Pruitt with a way to get some outside help from allies.
Legal defense funds aren’t that unusual, but as the head environmental regulator, Pruitt having a legal defense fund raises even more questions for government ethics experts, who have trouble envisioning how he will accept donations without creating another ethical mess.
“Any time Pruitt has an opportunity to use public office for private gain, I would raise a red flag,” says Kathleen Clark, legal ethics professor at the Washington University in St. Louis.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), one of the few senators to actually attend the entire Appropriations Committee’s environment subcommittee hearing, zeroed in on the potential for even more ethics conflicts with the fund: that it could become another venue for industry to buy influence at the EPA. He then pressed Pruitt to commit to making all donations to the fund public, to refuse anonymous donations, and to refuse money from groups with business before the agency.
But even if he complies with all rules and ethics regulations, let’s recall the extraordinary fact that Pruitt even needs a legal defense fund in the first place.
The lone Republican who remained the whole time (the chair) expressed frustration with Pruitt.
“I’m being constantly asked to comment on your housing, security, and travel,” said subcommittee chair Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). “I do think there are legitimate questions that need to be answered.”
And in a White House consumed with its own ethics scandals and its own legal troubles, Pruitt’s problems will likely remain on the back burner.
During the hearing, environmental activists held up signs saying “fire him” and followed Pruitt out of the room wearing green T-shirts with the words “Impeach Pruitt” as he dodged reporters.