By Jeff Charles
Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has officially resigned amidst accusations of misconduct and taxpayer abuse. On Thursday, July 5, he tendered his resignation to President Donald Trump.
It is unknown whether the president requested Pruitt’s resignation, or if the former EPA chief proactively offered it. But his exit from the executive branch will remove an avenue of criticism from the Democrats, who have consistently attempted to tie Pruitt’s alleged corruption to President Trump.
Scott Pruitt Resigns
On Thursday, President Trump took to Twitter to announce Pruitt’s resignation:
“I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this. The Senate confirmed Deputy at EPA, Andrew Wheeler, will…
…on Monday assume duties as the acting Administrator of the EPA. I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda. We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright!”
Pruitt has been a controversial figure in the Trump administration due to allegations that he consistently misused taxpayer dollars for personal use. Several prominent figures on both the left and the right have called for his firing.
Pruitt’s Taxpayer Abuses
Pruitt is accused of engaging in a multitude of unethical behaviors during his tenure as EPA chief. Reports revealed that he has used private jets and first-class travel. He also rented a condominium at a discounted rate from the wife of the leader of a lobbying firm that represents energy companies.
Kevin Chmielewski, former deputy chief of staff for the EPA and longtime Trump supporter, told the Oversight Committee about Pruitt’s wasteful spending. He stated that the former head of the EPA fraudulently justified expenses related to travel, bulletproof vests, upgrades to vehicles, and an exorbitant contract with an Italian security company. He also spent $43,000 of taxpayer funds on a soundproof phone booth in his office without seeking approval from Congress.
Moreover, the Office of Government Ethics expanded an investigation of Pruitt to include allegations that he ordered members of his staff to run personal errands for him and his wife. He has also been criticized for approving abnormally high pay raises for his aides.
Pruitt’s Resignation Helps the Trump Administration
It is unclear how many of the allegations against Scott Pruitt are valid. However, it seems that the former EPA chief may have engaged in several ill-advised behaviors that gave the president’s enemies an avenue of attack.
Some might have wished for Pruitt to remain in his post; he was working on limiting the power of the agency to enforce unnecessary regulations on business. However, alleged extracurricular activities could have caused tremendous damage to the Trump administration.
While Pruitt may have done good work for the administration, it wouldn’t be difficult for Trump to appoint individuals who could reign in the EPA without misusing taxpayer funds. This type of conduct only gives the left more ammunition. If President Trump is serious about draining the swamp, he has to ensure that the swamp does not seep into his cabinet.