The New Yorker:
Ever since Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, came to Washington last year, he’s been talking about restoring the “rule of law” at the agency, as though the careful scientists and the meticulous lawyers who work at the E.P.A. had gone wild and ransacked the place and he was the sober sheriff who had come to straighten it out. So the questions that have been accumulating about some of Pruitt’s on-the-job practices aren’t just shocking but, in a way, surprising. Pruitt is not a newbie to government, like, say Ben Carson, at Housing and Urban Development; he was Oklahoma’s attorney general, from 2011 to 2017, and he served two terms as the chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association. And he’s a more temperate sort than his boss, the President.
Yet in just the past few weeks we’ve learned about or have been reminded of a series of ill-considered, high-handed choices that Pruitt has made. He rented a condominium in Washington, D.C., at reportedly below-market rates from the wife of a lobbyist who represents fossil-fuel interests that the agency regulates. (Though the rental arrangement was retroactively approved by E.P.A. ethics officers, one of them, Justina Fugh, said in a statement for E&E News that she’d been called out of a movie theatre on a Thursday night to deliver her opinion, adding, pointedly, that she had not been given all the facts. “The federal ethics regulations provide that employees, in seeking ethics advice, make ‘full disclosure of all relevant circumstances,’ ” Fugh said. “The advice I gave on Thursday at the movie theater was based on specific facts provided to me. I am troubled to learn that those facts were not accurate. I was too credulous at the time.”
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