Pruitt - in or out?


#61

This is such a funny story, a member of Scott Pruitt’s team tried to plant a damaging story about Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke’s team to “take the heat off” Pruitt. The White House found out, asked if they had authority to fire him. Lol!


(nina) #62

Wow…it has gotten to this point. Such cagey animals these folks… :astonished:


(nina) #63

Long and interesting article Thx @Keaton_James …and for some reason, it does not surprise me. Yet another incident where Pruitt can profit with the wrong side of his job and reaps enormous rewards.

For some reason, Tea Pot Dome scandal came to mind and wasn’t sure of all the details…but it does involve a cabinet member (Interior) receiving bribes to lease land to oil co’s…And it does sound like were are pretty close to this level of scandal.

Wiki’s take -
The “Teapot Dome Scandal” was a government scandal that took place in the United States during 1921–1923, and was a bribery incident involving the administration of then President Warren G. Harding. Secretary of the Interior Albert Bacon Fall had leased Navy petroleum reserves at Teapot Dome in Wyoming and two other locations in California to private oil companies at low rates without competitive bidding. In 1922 and 1923, the leases became the subject of a sensational investigation by Senator Thomas J. Walsh. Fall was later convicted of accepting bribes from the oil companies and became the first Cabinet member to go to prison, however, no one was ever convicted of paying the bribes.

Before the Watergate scandal, Teapot Dome was regarded as the “greatest and most sensational scandal in the history of American politics”

We may be in the making of another huuuuge scale scandal.


#64

And now there’s this . . .


#65

@Keaton_James
Good catch! And buried in that article was a link to this tidy little list. It’s a pretty good little round up of all the inquiries into Pruitt.

Here are the probes into Pruitt:
Travel: The EPA inspector general is currently reviewing all of Pruitt’s travel last year. That audit is believed to include multiple taxpayer-funded weekend trips to his home state of Oklahoma as well as trips to Italy and Morocco.
Security detail: The inspector general announced in April it will begin another probe into Pruitt’s travel practices, suggesting it will review Pruitt’s use of his unprecedented 24/7 security detail while on family vacations.
First class travel: The Republican House Oversight Committee chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, has asked EPA to justify Pruitt’s use of first class or business class seats on flights. Earlier this spring, Gowdy said Pruitt was not being forthcoming with records.
Condo: Gowdy is also looking into Pruitt’s below-market-rate lease of a DC condo from a lobbyist couple, one of whom represents clients before the EPA. The inspector general has also acknowledged concerns about the condo and the “use of the Administrator’s subordinates’ time,” which appears to be a reference to reports the EPA scheduling director contacted real estate agents while on the clock. The condo lease also drew scrutiny from the Office of Government Ethics, which urged EPA to “take action to appropriately address any violations.”
Raises and hiring: Even before news broke of large raises for two political aides, the inspector general was auditing how Pruitt’s team used special hiring authority to fill policy-making jobs.
Demotions and reassignments: The inspector general said in a recent letter to Congress it is aware of “reassignment or demotion of staff who were attempting to ensure that expenses and other actions were in accordance with the law” and will consider the allegations.
Sound proof booth: The Government Accountability Office concluded the $43,000 purchase and installation of a privacy booth for Pruitt’s office violated federal spending law. Pruitt has said he uses the booth to receive classified information and hold calls with the White House. The White House, through its Office of Management and Budget, is reviewing the GAO report.
Mining meeting: The inspector general and Government Accountability Office are reviewing a meeting Pruitt held last April with the National Mining Association, where he was said to have encouraged members to urge President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.
Advisory board selections: The Government Accountability Office is also reviewing how the Pruitt administration has handled appointments to agency advisory committees. Democratic senators have raised questions about the qualifications and potential conflicts of interest for several appointees.
Email: A second Capitol Hill Republican – Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, whose committee oversees the EPA — has requested agency records. He is looking into reports that Pruitt has four EPA email addresses, at least one of which was not disclosed.


(nina) #66

Yet more evidence piling up as to how Pruitt’s EPA agenda gets fulfilled- lest there be an ounce of doubt.

#cartbeforethehorse. #EthicsBeDamned
#WillTravelForPayForPlay

Influential outsiders have played a key role in Scott Pruitt’s foreign travel - The Washington Post

Excerpts

"After taking office last year, Pruitt drew up a list of at least a dozen countries he hoped to visit and urged aides to help him find official reasons to travel, according to four people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal agency deliberations. Pruitt then enlisted well-connected friends and political allies to help make the trips happen.

'Longtime Pruitt friend Richard Smotkin, for example, helped arrange Pruitt’s four-day visit to Morocco in December. Smotkin, who has not returned calls seeking comment, later signed a $40,000-a-month lobbying contract with the Moroccan government."

'Pruitt’s practice of involving outsiders in his travels raises serious ethical concerns, legal experts said; federal law prohibits public officials from using their office to enrich themselves or any private individual, or to offer endorsements."


(nina) #67

Great list @Pet_Proletariat…found another one with overlapping info…but some other areas where the investigation is going. Via Bloomberg

Quicktake

Here’s a Scorecard of the Scott Pruitt Investigations.
By Jennifer A Dlouhy

April 25, 2018, 12:05 PM PDTUpdated on April 27, 2018, 3:06 PM PDT
Scott Pruitt drew criticism from the moment President Donald Trump installed him at the helm of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, since the former Oklahoma attorney general had built his career challenging EPA rules. But that was nothing compared with the deluge of damaging revelations that have emerged in recent months. At last count, there were at least 10 open investigations of Pruitt, not counting informal inquiries. Here’s a guide to who’s investigating Pruitt and what’s under the microscope:

Travel. The EPA’s inspector general, an internal watchdog, is auditing Pruitt’s travel, amid questions about frequent trips to his home state of Oklahoma at taxpayer expense and his reliance on first-class seats on commercial airplanes. This line of inquiry has twice been expanded to cover a longer time frame. The current window, through the end of 2017, permits scrutiny of Pruitt’s December trip to Morocco to promote U.S. liquefied natural gas.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is scrutinizing Pruitt’s frequent first-class seats, marking House Republicans’ first formal investigation of a member of Trump’s cabinet. The panel broadened its investigation in April to seek more information about Pruitt’s trips to Morocco and Italy, the administrator’s security protection and his lease of a Capitol Hill condominium from a lobbyist. The Republican chairman also is asking for transcribed interviews with five key EPA aides.
Security
The EPA inspector general is probing Pruitt’s round-the-clock security protection, including the possibility that bodyguards accompanied him on trips to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl.

Separately, the inspector general is auditing the administrator’s protective service detail in response to an anonymous complaint lodged before Pruitt was nominated. In September, the inspector general released an interim report saying it had discovered an unauthorized $23,413 pay adjustment for an unnamed agent.

The inspector general says it is conducting preliminary research on how the EPA’s criminal enforcement office reports “availability pay” awarded to officers who frequently work extra, unscheduled time beyond their regular workdays.

Spending
The Government Accountability Office already concluded the EPA violated an appropriations law by failing to give Congress advance notification about plans to spend more than $43,000 installing a secure phone booth in Pruitt’s office. The GAO said the EPA ran afoul of another law, the Antideficiency Act, by effectively spending government funds that hadn’t yet been appropriated or exceeded the appropriate amount. Federal employees who violate the law are subject to suspension from duty without pay or removal from office, as well as fines and imprisonment.

The White House Office of Management and Budget is examining the purchase of that soundproof phone booth, which morphed from a no-more-than $13,500 project into a $43,000 booth with silenced ventilation and “noise-lock” paneling.

$50 Condo. Rental
The EPA’s inspector general is probing Pruitt’s rental of a Capitol Hill bedroom from a lobbyist under favorable terms that allowed him to pay $50 per day – just for the days used. The U.S. government’s top ethics official had proddedthe IG to launch the inquiry.
Pay Raises
The EPA inspector general is studying how Pruitt’s office used special legal authority to fill up to 30 “administratively determined” positions and award pay raises to some political appointees. Two of Pruitt’s top aides were given raises worth tens of thousands of dollars over White House objections, using special authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The authority, which has been used by Pruitt’s predecessors, enables EPA administrators to swiftly bring on staff. Documents released as part of an interim report April 16 showed that Pruitt’s chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, authorized the salary increases.

Lobbying
The GAO is examining whether the EPA violated lobbying laws because of Pruitt’s appearance in a video describing his opposition to a rule on water pollution enacted under former President Barack Obama. The National Cattleman’s Beef Association video urges ranchers to file public comments on the rule the EPA is now rewriting and features Pruitt explaining the importance of that input. House Democrats, including Representative Frank Pallone of New Jersey, said Pruitt’s involvement in the video could run afoul of federal laws barring the use of taxpayer dollars for lobbying or propaganda purposes.

The EPA inspector general is compiling information about a meeting Pruitt had with the National Mining Association in April 2017, following a report the administrator urged the coal group to encourage Trump to pull the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. Pallone and other critics said that if true, Pruitt’s prodding would violate lobbying laws. Inspector General Arthur Elkins Jr. told Pallone he could submit the complied factual record to the GAO to investigate potential legal violations.

Pending Requests
Democratic lawmakers asked Trump to conduct his own investigation of allegations by Kevin Chmielewski, a supporter of the president who worked at the EPA and, they said, “painted an extremely troubling picture” of waste, unethical behavior and “potentially illegal” actions by Pruitt.

Senate Democrats have asked Pruitt to explain how his top bodyguard’s business partner won a contract to search the administrator’s office for listening devices. At issue is an EPA security move that may have enriched one of Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta’s business partners, Edwin Steinmetz, the vice president for technical surveillance countermeasures at Perrotta’s Maryland-based company, Sequoia Security Group Inc. Perrotta is the company’s principal, and the EPA’s $3,000 contract to search for bugs in Pruitt’s office was awarded to Edwin Steinmetz Associates LLC.

Democratic lawmakers also have asked EPA’s top ethics official to explain how the agency approved and monitors outside work by Perrotta and other employees.The Reference ShelfMeet the former Secret Service agent driving EPA security decisions.Why conservatives have rallied behind Pruitt.Why Pruitt got a soundproof phone booth.

Democratic lawmakers also have asked EPA’s top ethics official to explain how the agency approved and monitors outside work by Perrotta and other employees.


(Lynn) #68

I think this current mess will break all records for the biggest scandal in America…I mean, look how many continuously-moving parts there are, not to mention all that’s in the rear-view mirror. It’s a full-time job to keep up with it all, as I’m pretty sure Matt can vouch for.


(nina) #69

More obfuscation towards journalists who want to unravel Pruitt’s underhanded ways.

Excerpt
"Top aides to Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency are screening public records requests related to the embattled administrator, slowing the flow of information released under the Freedom of Information Act — at times beyond what the law allows.

Internal emails obtained by POLITICO show that Pruitt’s political appointees reviewed documents collected for most or all FOIA requests regarding his activities, even as he’s drawn scrutiny for his use of first-class flights and undisclosed dealings with lobbyists."


#70

It’s not surprising to find that Pruitt has been trading favors for media support.


(nina) #71

@EricLiptonNyt
Here is a whole collection of documents assembled by The NYT that looks at this get together with Cardinal Pell–the planning for the dinner in May, the schedule from the actual dinner, and the official agency calendars. Just thought we would share it all. https://t.co/Dy2YotncMV


#72

@dragonfly9 Thanks for the documents on the Pruitt-Pell dinner. I wasn’t aware of this meeting at all – I always learn something new when I visit WTFJHT! I imagine that the NYT will soon be fielding an article based on these documents. In the meantime, here’s a brief take from Mother Jones. The headline says it all.


(nina) #73

And something horrifying as well right??@Keaton_James

Thanks to FOIA this is coming to light…I believe this was last year’s dinner…it says 2017. Good sleuthing on all fronts

Yeah, what a guy. Cardinal Pell. :frowning: .

Just another WTF scary thing to read.


(nina) #74

Security detail from day one…just the way he rolls.


(M A Croft) #75

Yep! We have been waiting here “down under” for Pell to face up to the accusations.


It must be hard for Pope Francis to reconcile this man and his “beliefs” wrt to Climate Change and his encyclical on the environment and human ecology https://laudatosi.com/watch


#76

Grassley made the threat Tuesday as part of a warning to Pruitt against the EPA’s reported “hardship” waivers, which are given to fuel refineries to exempt them from the federal ethanol mandate under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“Well, they better, or I’m going to be calling for Pruitt to resign, because I’m done playing around with this” he said of his request that EPA stop issuing the waivers to individual small refineries owned by large companies.

Them’s fightin’ words!


(nina) #77

Some thoughts gathered from Politico regarding water and lack of protection under Pruitt. Measured here by how “little you perform.”

Even by the standards set by this administration* regarding grift in office, Scott Pruitt stands alone. And even by the standards set by this administration*, by which the ultimate measure of performance in office is how little you perform in office, Scott Pruitt stands alone.

From Politico

The intervention early this year — not previously disclosed — came as HHS’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry was preparing to publish its assessment of a class of toxic chemicals that has contaminated water supplies near military bases, chemical plants and other sites from New York to Michigan to West Virginia. The study would show that the chemicals endanger human health at a far lower level than EPA has previously called safe, according to the emails.

“The public, media, and Congressional reaction to these numbers is going to be huge,” one unidentified White House aide said in an email forwarded on Jan. 30 by James Herz, a political appointee who oversees environmental issues at the OMB. The email added: “The impact to EPA and [the Defense Department] is going to be extremely painful. We (DoD and EPA) cannot seem to get ATSDR to realize the potential public relations nightmare this is going to be.”


(nina) #78

At today’s Senate Panel meeting with Scott Pruitt, he came off as contrite as usual, in front of Sen Murkowski ® and Sen Tom Udall (D) deflecting their questions.

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the chairwoman of the subcommittee, initially rebuked the E.P.A. chief.

“I’m being asked, really constantly asked, to comment on housing and security and travel,” she said. “Instead of seeing articles about efforts to return your agency to its core mission, I’m reading articles about your interactions with the industries that you regulate.”


(nina) #79

Several anti Scott Pruitt groups got together some ads depicting Pruitt for what he is…someone who’s exploiting his power and on the take.

The ad, shared on Instagam, Facebook and Twitter to Washington, D.C.- and Oklahoma-based audiences, highlights a number of controversies tied to Pruitt’s relationship with lobbyists, including reports that he rented a $50-a-night condo from the wife of an energy lobbyist and worked in tandem with a number of special interest groups when booking international work trips.

Titled: “Do-it-Pruitt,” the satirical digital campaign advertises services to everyday users similar to those utilized by Pruitt since his time heading the EPA.

“Looking to plan a luxury vacation to far off places like Australia, Morocco or Italy? Try Do-it-Pruitt, your one-stop shop for outrageous pay-to-play deals at the Environmental Protection Agency,” the ad says. “We have a lobbyist ready to make your plane, dinner and hotel reservations for you; all you have to do is meet with their corporate polluter clients.”

The advertisement additionally offers “lobbyist landlords at the ready, with sweetheart deals” like the one the ad’s “CEO” Pruitt received.


(nina) #80

MAN WHO COINED ‘LOCK HER UP’ TO LEAD EPA OFFICE: Michael Stoker, best known for coining the “lock her up” chant against presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the 2016 Republican National Convention, will soon head the EPA’s regional office that oversees the Pacific Southwest.

Why it’s notable: The administration had reportedly struggled to find people interested in taking the appointment. In January it was widely expected that Ryan Flynn, an oil and gas lobbyist from New Mexico, would take on the role but he later told the Los Angeles Times that he was staying put.

The report generated ire from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) who sent a letter to Pruitt on Thursday warning there’d be consequences to allowing Stoker to be an “absentee” leader, and asking how the arrangement would work and cost.