Pruitt Should Expect the 'Spanish Inquisition' From House Oversight Authorities

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Scott Pruitt

This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup

Yesterday, a new Democratic House took up its gavel and ushered in a long-overdue agenda of government oversight. We might finally start to see answers to the many, many questions that have come up over the past two years about Trump’s regulatory rollbacks. One lobbyist told CNBC’s Tim DeChristopher that the Trump administration should expect to face “the Spanish Inquisition.”

All this change has got to be worrisome for Trump’s cabinet, even those like Zinke who have already left, given everything that reporters (who lack the power to issue subpoenas or compel testimony under oath) have uncovered about Pruitt.

Scott Pruitt might be gone from Trump’s administration, he certainly hasn’t been forgotten. Yesterday, Mother Jones followed up its story from December of 2017 on the political machinations behind the EPA’s short-lived contract with the conservative political PR group Definers Corp. As it turns out, it wasn’t a standard contracting process, as political appointees told reporters. Instead, emails reveal that the contract was a politically-driven decision pushed by Pruitt’s caustic spokesman Jahan Wilcox as career staff attempted to follow the rules and go through the standard protocols.

How bad was the situation? University of Baltimore professor of contract law Charles Tiefer told MoJo that this sort of politicization, of sending contracts to preferred political friends instead of going through the bidding process “is the definition of corruption.” In his over 20 years of teaching government contracting, he has “never seen a political operative firm getting a government contract.”

On the other hand, there is plenty of precedent for politicians like Pruitt leaving public service to get work in the private sphere. The Washington Post documented in a major piece published at the end of 2018 not only all of Pruitt’s pricey travel, but also what he’s been up to since resigning last summer.

Unsurprisingly, Pruitt’s schedule since being booted from office has mostly involved hanging out with his rich fossil fuel friends and trying to make money as an energy consultant and paid speaker. He’s been making the rounds to the big energy and utility lobby groups, like the National Association of Manufacturers and the Edison Electric Institute. But apparently the only person who’s agreed to hire the one-time lotion lover is Alliance Resource Partner CEO Joseph Craft III, a long-time “friend” of Pruitt’s. However,  the work Pruitt has done (consulting about international coal sales) hasn’t been for the company itself, but rather in a “personal” capacity for Craft, the Post reports.

Seems that Pruitt’s poor reputation from the EPA has followed him. And it should: by all counts he was not well-liked, even by Trump. According to the WaPo story, Trump has on multiple occasions “congratulated Wheeler for not attempting to buy a used mattress from Trump International Hotel” like Pruitt had. That he was trying to impress Trump by buying the mattress in the first place makes the mockery that much sweeter.

And even Pruitt’s own political appointees don’t seem to miss their boss too much. Apparently, upon Pruitt’s departure, a collection went around to purchase Pruitt’s chair from the White House Cabinet meetings, a traditional parting gift for officers of Pruitt’s rank. Perhaps because he gave and then reversed over $80,000 in raises for just two appointees, and then lied about it on TV, the collection only raised a fraction of the chair’s $1,200 purchase price.

Dejected by the lack of support from his former staff, Pruitt contacted the White House and just bought the chair himself.

No word yet on where he’s put it, but given how often it’s apt to get hauled into House hearings to testify, he should probably just keep it there.

Main image:  Scott Pruitt speaking at the 2015 CPAC in Washington, D.C. Credit: Gage SkidmoreCC BY-SA 3.0

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