Scott Pruitt’s scandals test trust in the government

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In this June 2, 2017 file photo, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt speaks in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. White House officials sounded increasingly doubtful April 5, about the future of Pruitt, even as President Donald Trump appeared to throw him a public lifeline. Trump, asked if he still has confidence in Pruitt while boarding Air Force One, responded: "I do." (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

In this June 2, 2017 file photo, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt speaks in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. White House officials sounded increasingly doubtful April 5, about the future of Pruitt, even as President Donald Trump appeared to throw him a public lifeline. Trump, asked if he still has confidence in Pruitt while boarding Air Force One, responded: “I do.” (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Over the past few weeks, the Environmental Protection Agency’s fearless leader, Scott Pruitt, has been at the center of yet another scandal for the Trump Administration. During Pruitt’s time in office he has become well known for his fine work in rolling back Obama-era policies that are protecting our planet from imminent destruction. However, as of late he is being known as a different type of man. No longer is he just the kind of man who spends his time “trying to kill seagulls”. No, now Pruitt is the kind of man who plays favorites and does not understand how to make ethical decisions that accompany a cabinet position. Oh, and he still kills birds.

Pruitt’s rise to office has not been well received by most of the citizens that possess any ability to look outside and see how insane the weather has been lately. While climate change has continued to progress forward over the last year or so that Pruitt has been in office, all he has done to “protect the environment” is attempt to rollback Obama’s forward strides and save our planet from a longer lifespan. Recently, his plan to further the goals of the EPA has come in the form of lowering car emission standards, thus revoking yet another Obama-era plan to mandate automobiles to average more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025. This goal would serve to help the automobile industry in America, which seems the clear winner when choosing between a better market for cars versus our planet not dying.

Unfortunately for Pruitt, his decisions regarding how to protect the environment are not the only things causing his name to appear in headlines recently. Currently, Pruitt is involved with not one, but multiple scandals that have accused him of giving unauthorized raises to his favorite staffers, as well as renting bargain housing from people with major ties to an energy lobbying group. He is also under scrutiny for excessive government-funded flights to Oklahoma, his home state.   

Focusing on this first claim, this past March Pruitt was accused of favoritism in the form of giving pay raises to aides that were not authorized to receive these raises. Both employees in question were part of Pruitt’s personal team when he served as attorney general in Oklahoma, and relocated with him to Washington when he was appointed to President Trump’s cabinet. The two raises, which were valued at $28,130 for one employee and $56,765 for the second, were both declined by the White House, so Pruitt managed to undermine the authority of the Presidential Personnel Office and found a way to give these raises on his own. This act, while maybe being well intended, is a direct violation of a major authority in the government, and showcases how unethical Pruitt can be when making decisions in the workplace.

This has also been showcased by the second major scandal that has taken place over the past few weeks for Pruitt. This scandal involved Pruitt continuously renting a “$50 a night of a condominium linked to an energy lobbyist” who happens to be connected to many of the organizations and departments that Pruitt is supposed to be regulating as Administrator of the E.P.A.. While the E.P.A. has conducted their own internal investigation into the matter and claimed that it was not a conflict of interest, this affair clearly raises many concerns regarding the ethics of the agency.

David J. Apol, the acting director of the Office of Government Ethics stated it best: “The success of our government depends on maintaining the trust of the people we serve.”. Unfortunately for Pruitt, these actions are not helping do that. In the midst of an administration that seems to be testing the limits when it comes to our citizens’ trust and forgiveness, we do not need another advisor to the president being linked to corruption and scandal. While it is unclear what the future holds for Scott Pruitt, one thing is true: we have to get our act together with regards to the environment, whether we have Pruitt or not.


Emma Hungaski is the associate opinion editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at emma.hungaski@uconn.edu

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