Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Lobbyist got Pruitt Rose Bowl tickets at below market price

An Oklahoma businessman with ties to the fossil fuel industry helped Scott Pruitt get four tickets for himself and his family to the 2018 Rose Bowl. Pruitt reportedly paid \$175 each for the tickets. The New York Times valued the tickets' worth at seven times that much. That would be a value of about \$4900 for the four tickets.

The more I think about this, the more I feel there's a lot more to the story. Let's do some math.

Even if Pruitt only paid \$175 per ticket, that would be \$700 for tickets alone. He then had to fly his family to Pasadena for the game. Of course, he flies first class at taxpayer expense, but what about his family? I'm sure even the corrupt people who work deals for him would balk at the idea of taxpayers paying for the family tickets. Round trip tickets between Oklahoma City and LA run about \$450 each for coach. I'm going to assume Pruitt is cheap and made his family ride coach while he sat in first class. The seat may be first class, but Pruitt isn't. But, even at coach fares, that would be \$1350 for the other three seats.

Let's assume taxpayers got stiffed for the vehicle and let's assume taxpayers also got stuck paying for his hotel room (with his wife). This would be a violation of the law in that this was not job related, but we'll assume he found some meeting to go to for 30 minutes in order to justify the expense. That still leaves a hotel room for the kids. I'm going to assume two nights. Pruitt has earned a reputation as someone who thinks he's entitled and isn't going to stay in a budget rate motel. Upscale hotels average \$500 per night during the Rose Bowl period (even Motel 6 is \$200 per night). That's another \$1000.

Throw in meals, parking, and other various expenses for four people and that's maybe another \$1000. All total, you're looking at a total bill of somewhere in the range of \$4000 - after what taxpayers got stuck for. Here's the problem I have with this - Pruitt is so cheap that he's trying to get his wife a job to help support households in both D.C. and Oklahoma. Why in the world would someone this cheap pay \$4000 out of pocket to go see a football game. Was the fact that the Oklahoma Sooners were in the game provide sufficient motivation for him? Isn't it more likely that he got these expenses paid for by his lobbyist friends or fossil fuel buddies? That would be a very severe ethical violation. But, of course, Pruitt has shown he isn't concerned with ethical violations. Those are for other people, not him.

If there's any justice to be found, the Sooners lost 54 - 48.

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Pruitt Files

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is under so many investigations it's difficult to keep track of them all. Pruitt, who may be the most corrupt official in Washington, can't seem to go to the grocery store without breaking the law and acting entitled. As a result, I've decided to make a scorecard page to keep track of his transgressions. What is disturbing is the arrogance he displays in the commission of these violations. Then again, why shouldn't he? No one has held him accountable all these years. That's a failure of the system, not Pruitt. I'll update this as more is uncovered, so come back.  You'll need to do it frequently. It seems there's a new revelation every day. At this time, I list 19 different issues. The current issues are listed alphabetically. New ones (and, I'm sure there will be more) will be added on at the bottom.
- June 7, 2018

UPDATE June 9, 2018 - Well, that didn't take long. I had barely published this list before there was more news about Pruitt. Congressional Democrats have requested the FBI investigate Pruitt for criminal activity. Hopefully, this is the first step to sending him to prison. Pruitt wants 24/7 security? Fine, give it to him. Meanwhile, the New York Times lists 12 investigations.

UPDATE June 19, 2018 - It now comes out that a lobbyist got Pruitt four tickets to the 2018 Rose Bowl at below market prices. But, there's more to the story. Read below (item number 20) or here.

UPDATE: June 25, 2018 - Ho hum. Another day, another example of Pruitt's corruption. According to reports in the New York Times, Pruitt and the lobbyist J Steven Hart, whose wife rented the condo to Pruitt, was more involved with the EPA than either of them admitted and tried to influence EPA decisions while Pruitt was renting their condo. Pruitt also hired a friend of Hart's at Hart's suggestion. This indicates a quid pro quo relationship that would be a felony.

UPDATE: July 3, 2018 - It's been a week. Must be time for another Pruitt scandal. Turns out, he was ordering the scrubbing of his official calendar in violation of federal law. Check out the link or item number 21 below. In other news, there has been developments in the investigation that Pruitt retaliated against staffers for doing their jobs. Also, investigations into whether Pruitt has used his office for personal gain have been widened. It has also been revealed that the head EPA ethics official has referred "potential issues" regarding Pruitt's actions to the EPA's internal watchdog agency for investigation. Keeping track of Pruitt's ethics violations is nearly a full-time job.

UPDATE: July 5, 2018 - Under nearly-continuous fire due to his ethical failings, Scott Pruitt has resigned from the EPA. Hallelujah! The reports are the investigations into his conduct will continue. Hopefully, some criminal charges will come as a result.
Pruitt has demanded a 24/7 security detail. The stated need is because of the high number of death threats against the administrator. Consequently, Pruitt's security has cost taxpayers \$3.4 million, 30% more than any other administrator.

Well, if there are a large number of death threats, then this is justified. But, are there really that many death threats? In fact, based on leaked Secret Service documents, it sounds as if there have been no death threats at all. The Secret Service investigated all claims and found no instances to act on. The Secret Service even went as far as stating the EPA has relied on non-violent protests, negative feedback and "other First Amendment-protected activity" to justify the security. The EPA has claimed there were an 'unprecedented number' of death threats against Pruitt and his family and offered to provide the documents to support this claim, but those documents have never been produced. And, contrary Pruitt's claims, internal EPA documents show he demanded this security starting the first day he was in office - before there was any threat at all.

Summary: The evidence indicates Pruitt feels entitled and wants the taxpayers to spend money to stroke his ego. Lies were concocted to cover up the fact that this security was established on the demand of Pruitt, not on the basis of death threats. Clearly, this is a severe case of fraud, waste and abuse.

2. Attempt to get Wife a Chick-fil-A Franchise

Documents show Pruitt used his aide to set up a financial meeting to investigate the possibility of his wife obtaining a Chick-fil-A franchise. His wife started, but did not finish, the application for a franchise. Pruitt also approached the New York nonprofit Concordia about a job for his wife.

Pruitt not only used a government employee for personal gain, but he also used his office for his own personal gain, both of which are violations of federal law. The aide, Sydney Hupp, resigned from the EPA last year.  Her sister, Millan Hupp, was also used by Pruitt for personal tasks and has also resigned, two days after testifying before Congress. (see 17. Using Aide for Personal Business below.)

Summary: Pruitt used a federal employee and a federal office for personal gain. Not only did Pruitt violate federal law, but he showed his contempt for the process. This truly demonstrates a pattern of behavior on his part.

3. Condo Rental

As is now well known, Pruitt rented a condo from a lobbyist's wife. If that wasn't enough, Pruitt used his EPA aide to get the room, even having her tour a number of properties, a violation of ethics laws. Taxpayers aren't paying aides to do personal tasks for their supervisors. Then, it turns out Pruitt instructed her to do these personal chores, even requiring her to do them on her personal time. This is a violation of federal ethics law prohibiting officials from using their positions for personal gain.

Pruitt's claim is that he paid fair market value, comparable to Airbnb rates. Let's check. Pruitt paid \$50 per night for a condo that was only one block from the capitol building. Here's what I get when I look at Airbnb near the nation's capitol:

Rooms available for the night of June 4, 2018 ranged from a low of \$257 to a high of \$600 with an average of \$430. By all measures, \$50 per night was far below market value and constituted a gift.It is true that the price will change depending on the season, but June was right in the middle of the period Pruitt was renting this room (February through August, 2017), so it's a fair representative value.

But, that isn't the whole story. The condo was owned by the wife of J. Steven Hart, the chairman and CEO of the powerhouse lobbying firm Williams and Jensen PLLC, a lobbying firm that represents many fossil fuel companies subject to EPA regulations. The leased originally showed Hart as the landlord, but his name was crossed out and his wife's was written in. Pruitt claimed he had no dealings with Hart, Williams and Jensen, or the companies they represent. But, that was false. In fact, Hart met with Pruitt in Pruitt's EPA office in July 2017. Hart claims that meeting had nothing to do with his clients. However, his firm has lobbied the EPA on behalf of several clients. Hart also hosted a 2014 campaign fundraising event for Pruitt while he was the Oklahoma attorney general. Three dozen clients made donations even though Pruitt was running without a Democratic opponent.

As interesting side note, Pruitt wouldn't move out and the owners had to evict him by changing the lock codes. Ouch!
Summary: Pruitt received a highly discounted condo from an lobbyist who had dealings with the EPA. It also appears there was an effort to hide this fact. Pruitt also lied about meeting with the lobbyist. There is most definitely the appearance of quid pro quo in this deal.

UPDATE: June 25, 2018 - Ho hum. Another day, another example of Pruitt's corruption. According to reports in the New York Times, Pruitt and the lobbyist J Steven Hart, whose wife rented the condo to Pruitt, was more involved with the EPA than either of them admitted and tried to influence EPA decisions while Pruitt was renting their condo. Pruitt also hired a friend of Hart's at Hart's suggestion. This indicates a quid pro quo relationship that would be a felony.

4. Lobbying with Cattleman’s Association

In August 2017, Pruitt appeared before the National Cattleman's Beef Association where he urged ranchers and farmers to file public comments on a clean water rule under review by the EPA. That, in itself, is not a problem. It is proper for government officials to encourage people to exercise their rights under the law. The issue is what he said.

"We're trying to fix the challenges from the 2015 rule, where the Obama Administration re-imagined their authority under the Clean Water Act and defined a Water of the United States as being a puddle, a dry creek bed, and ephemeral drainage ditches across this country, which created great uncertainty... and we are fixing that, and then we're hearing from stakeholders about how to get it right as we go forward."
With this statement, Pruitt went from encouraging the ranchers and farmers to exercise their rights to lobbying for a pre-determined outcome. Pruitt essentially told them what to say. Not only is this lobbying, a violation of federal law, but indicates the issue was never open to debate. Pruitt had already decided the outcome he wanted and was merely trying to formalize it.

He is under investigation by the GAO for this action.

Summary: Pruitt used his position with the federal government to lobby a professional organization to vote the way he wanted, a violation of federal law.

5. Lobbying with Miner’s Association

Before Pruitt appeared before the Cattleman's Association, he was able to practice his lobbying skills on the National Mining Association. In April 2017,  Pruitt had a meeting with the Mining Association and encouraged them to contact Trump and voice their support to withdraw from the Paris Climate Treaty. Trump later announced the U.S. is withdrawing from the treaty. The Association voted to do that the very next day. The following December, Pruitt rescinded a rule requiring mining companies to demonstrate they had the funds to clean up their pollution.

This action is being investigated by the EPA inspector general. That sounds like a fixed deal to me, but at least the IG will have to explain his actions and rationale for all to see.

In May, Pruitt again began meeting with industry groups, including the National Mining Association.

Summary: Pruitt met with the mining association and lobbied them to voice support for a particular outcome. This is a violation of federal law. The association voted the way he asked the next day. Later that year, Pruitt gave the association a controversial decision they had been seeking.

6. Family Trips

Pruitt also insisted on his security detail during personal trips, including trips to the Rose Bowl, Disneyland, and basketball games the University of Kentucky. These trips included requests for per diem lodging rates in excess of the federal rates.

Summary: This is another case of fraud, waste, and abuse that illustrates Pruitt's pattern of behavior.

7. First Class Seats

Man, where to start?&nbsp
Let's keep this simple. Pruitt flies first class any time the taxpayers are footing the bill. This requires a waiver. Pruitt claims he has a 'blanket waiver' allowing to travel first class at all times. Unfortunately, no such thing exists. And, the stated reason Pruitt claims he needs to fly first class is because people yell at him in the airport. No explanation is provided on how flying first class prevents people in the airport from yelling at him. He still has to pass through the same airport. And, what's to stop first class passengers from yelling at him?

Pruitt spent nearly \$200,000 on first class and charter flights in just six months last year. That figure does not include the cost of his staff or security detail. The expense of Pruitt's travels is greater than the cost of valuable programs that have been canceled at the EPA, including programs to address radon, the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the country, and a program to address hazards of in-door air.

Question: Does Pruitt still fly first class when he pays for the ticket himself?

Summary: Pruitt has abused his position to fly extravagantly at tax payer expense and lied about it when caught. This is a clear cut case of fraud, waste, and abuse.

8. Oklahoma House Purchase

In 2003, a shell company to purchased a house from a lobbyist. Pruitt was one of five investors in the company. The shell company paid \$350,000 for the house, representing a \$100,000 discount from what the lobbyist has paid for the house just one year earlier. Two years later, they sold the house for a \$95,000 profit. Pruitt, a state senator at the time. failed to disclose his involvement in the company or the proceeds. The two individuals that helped make this deal happen, Kenneth Wagner and Albert Kelly, both received senior positions in the EPA. Kelly was banned from banking for life and resigned from his position in May of this year. Wagner is still with the EPA in the role of Senior Adviser to the Administrator for Regional and State Affairs.

Summary: Pruitt was engaged in a very shady deal that he successfully hid for years. Two of the men that helped him pull it off received high-paying positions at the EPA. Hmmm.

9. Oklahoma Office

Even before Pruitt was confirmed by the Senate he was working behind the scenes to get an EPA branch office in his hometown of Tulsa, OK. Why? Because now he could claim he needed taxpayers to pay for him to make a trip home. It turned out this was a bad move because it was the frequent trips to Oklahoma that first brought his corrupt practices to the attention of others. It's been a can of worms since then, as this list testifies to.

In a span of only 92 days, Pruitt spent 43 days in Oklahoma and charged taxpayers \$12,000 for the flights.

To no surprise, this isn't the first time Pruitt has been involved in questionable office leases. While serving as Oklahoma attorney general, he directed a new, larger, more expensive satellite office be opened in his hometown of Tulsa. He also directed them to use a much more expensive office in the Bank of America Center than another option that was proposed, costing the OK taxpayers 70% more.

Congress is investigating this issue.

Summary: Pruitt has established a pattern of behavior of using taxpayer money to fund lavish offices in his home town. Can you say fraud, waste, and abuse?

10. Pay Raises for Aides

Pruitt wanted to give raises to two aides - Sarah Greenwalt, senior counsel to the administrator, and his director of scheduling, Millan Hupp. When the White House turned down his request, he simply did it anyway, giving Greenwalt a \$56,765 raise and Hupp a raise of \$28,130. Ms. Hupp resigned recently, two days after testifying before Congress.

Pruitt went on to state that he had no knowledge of the pay raises and it was done without his approval. But, emails contradict that claim and show that he not only knew, but directed them.

True to form, Pruitt doubled-down by going on Fox News and stating, ""I did not know that they got the pay raises until yesterday," a statement that reportedly sent people in a dash to cover themselves. The reason became apparent a week later when Pruitt admitted before Congress that he did, in fact, know about the raises. The difference? During the interval, all of those emails came to light showing how he had lied.

And, sounding like a broken record, the EPA inspector general is studying Pruitt's practices regarding hiring and awarding pay raises.

Summary: A lie on TV may be embarrassing, but it's not a crime. It's not even a crime to ignore your boss. Just really bad form. Since Trump didn't fire him right away, it looks like he'll get away with it.

11. Pens

Pruitt purchased 12 custom made, engraved fountain pens to be used as gifts to foreign counterparts. Along with the pens was a set of journals. The pens cost \$1560 and the journals another \$1670. That comes out to \$130 per pen. It is certainly proper to have gifts to share with counterparts, but was this a reasonable expense, or did Pruitt indulge his ego? A little research shows you can purchase high quality custom pens for between \$50 and \$85, including engraving.

Summary: Pruitt appears to have spent an excessive amount for something he could've purchased at a much more reasonable price. This would be a case that falls under the category of waste, fraud and abuse. It appears to be a minor case, but it indicates a pattern of behavior.

12. Punishing Subordinates

Reports indicate that at least five EPA officials were demoted, reassigned, or requested new jobs after expressing concerns about Pruitt's spending and management practices. Issues they were concerned with include unusually large amounts of spending on office furniture, first class travel, and security details. According to the New York Times, Pruitt was angry when confronted by the officials. One official was placed on administrative leave without  pay, two others were moved to new jobs where they had less say in spending decisions, and one took a position with the American University after being told to get a new job. A member of the security detail had his gun and badge taken away when he expressed concern over Pruitt's security detail. Ryan Jackson, Pruitt's chief of staff remains in his position but is considering retirement.

The EPA denies these reports.

Two Congressional letters list disturbing details of the way Pruitt treats his subordinates.

UPDATE July 3, 2018: Former deputy chief of staff for operations Kevin Chmielewski was interviewed for eight hours for the investigation.

Summary: Several officials within the EPA questioned Pruitt concerning his actions and were punished for it. This fits reports of Pruitt's management style - his way or the highway. In his arrogance, he is incapable of understanding that he cannot act in just any manner he wishes. Which explains why he is in so much trouble now.

13. Purge of Scientists

Pruitt announced, effective immediately, the EPA will no longer allow any scientists receiving EPA grants to serve on any advisory boards. The announced onus for this to increase transparency with the reasoning that any scientist receiving grants from the EPA cannot make an unbiased decision. The EPA stated they will be replaced with industry scientists. While claiming the scientists cannot be expected to be independent when receiving EPA grants, he did not cite any specific conflicts of interest or incidents that demonstrate there is a problem with the grants to advisors.

?????

No matter how many times I think about this, I completely fail to see the logic that says scientists receiving EPA grants are biased, but scientists being paid by the industries being regulated are, therefore, unbiased. There is one, and only one, conclusion that can be reached with this decision - Pruitt is stacking the deck with hand-picked people. As a result, the EPA will now have a free hand to gut environmental regulations any way it wants and has a built-in defense against lawsuits.

If the logic doesn't convince you of this, simply look at who is making recommendations about replacements and who those replacements are. The Heartland Institute has long been the greatest science-hating organization in the country. Emails reveal that Pruitt is coordinating decisions with Heartland, is in frequent contact with them, and have shared released statements. Heartland has made recommendations for Pruitt's proposed red team/blue team debate that included a man convicted of attempting to sodomize his own 11-year old daughter. While the attempted sodomy charge is the only one he was convicted of, he was arrested in 2006 on two counts of rape, four counts of sodomy and one count of attempted sodomy as a result of sex abuse accusations by his children dating back decades. The other charges were dropped.

What is also significant is the total lack of credible scientists. In short, there is not a SINGLE credible scientist on Heartland's list.

It is important to note that these are the kind of people the self-describe 'evangelical' Pruitt keeps company with. Like they say, you can tell a lot about someone by the company they keep.

This action is being investigated by the GAO

Summary: Pruitt made a blatantly corrupt move that seriously undermined the veracity of the EPA. But, if Pruitt's goal is to pad profits of his industry friends, then he can claim that the mission has been accomplished. Unfortunately, many people will suffer by his campaign to destroy any, and all, environmental regulations.

14. Secure Phone Booth

As is well known, Pruitt ordered the construction of a secure phone booth in his office. The stated guidance was he needed something where he could have conversations that couldn't be overheard. The EPA also claimed it would be used as a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF), which are used to store our most tightly-controlled classified material. This despite the fact that there were already two SCIFs at the EPA.

After construction, it was revealed the booth cost over \$42,000. The GAO investigated and found Pruitt violated the law, stating,
“We conclude that EPA violated section 710 [of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act] when it obligated \$42,238.68 for the installation of a soundproof privacy booth without providing advance notice to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate.”
It was also a violation of the Antideficiency Act, by effectively spending government funds that hadn’t yet been appropriated or exceeded the appropriate amount. Despite the risk of prison terms and high fines, no one has ever been prosecuted under the Antideficiency Act.

Further, it turned out it doesn't even qualify as a SCIF, so that stated use is completely false.

Pruitt said he didn't have anything to do with it and put the blame on his aides. This is consistent with Pruitt's pattern of blaming others for his corrupt, unethical, and criminal behavior. No wonder they've been bailing out.

Summary: It has been determined that Pruitt violated the law in the construction of the phone booth, but he has faced no disciplinary action from the White House - i.e., he still has his job.

15. Security Deal for Aide's Friend

Pruitt was asked to explain to the Senate 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.

In comparison to his other infractions, this one is pretty minor, but is yet another example of Pruitt's cronyism and his violations of fraud, waste, and abuse.

Summary: The business partner of Pruitt's bodyguard is awarded a large contract to search for listening devices.

16. Travel

Among Pruitt's more questionable expenditures were trips to Italy and Morocco at taxpayer expense.

Pruitt made a trip to Italy June 5 -12, 2017 at an expense to taxpayers of \$120,000. That's an average of \$17,000 per day. \$30,000 of that money went to his security details. During this trip, he had a meeting with G7 ministers but also took a private tour of the Vatican.

There are no details of why he needed a full week in Italy to meet with G7 ministers (what does that have to do with the EPA?), but I find it interesting that he spend a full week in Italy and it is described as 'a' meeting. One meeting in a week? For \$120,000?

But, there's more (isn't there always more with this guy?). While in Italy, he received a private tour of the Vatican, including a dinner with Vatican treasurer, Cardinal George Pell, a devoted anti-climate change advocate. More importantly, Pell has been charged with child sex abuse. The EPA knew of the investigation at the time they worked on the reservations, but instead of backing out, they attempted to cover it up by keeping the Cardinal's name off the official register.

Worse than the Italy trip was a trip Pruitt made to Morocco for no ostensible reason. After a delay due to weather (which he spent in Paris), Pruitt traveled to Rabat, Morocco for a stay December 11 - 14, 2017. During that time, he had one full day of work and two days with one, one-hour meetings each. He took at least 10 EPA staff members with him.

The purpose of the trip? To promote American natural gas.

The trip cost is stated to be at least \$100,000, but that is probably way too low. Pruitt's first class seat is reported to have cost \$17,000 by itself. The trip is under investigation by the EPA inspector general.

In a press release, released after the trip, the EPA stated he conducted bilateral meetings and "outlined U.S. environmental priorities for updating the Environmental Work Plan under the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement and the potential benefit of liquified natural gas (LNG) imports on Morocco’s economy." One has to question, where in the EPA charter does it say the administrator is charged with promoting American natural gas?

But, there's a clue. Actually, it's a big white elephant. The trip was partly planned by a Comcast lobbyist, Richard Smotkin. Smotkin was reportedly constantly with Pruitt during the trip and was even included in meetings. Smotkin, coincidentally, was hired by the Moroccan government shortly after Pruitt's trip.

Had enough? Too bad. It now turns out Pruitt's trip to Italy was also arranged by a lobbyist, Leonard Leo, one of the top executives of conservative legal group whose top funders include Charles & David Koch and Chevron, and set up Pruitt's visits to the Vatican.

That's still not all. It turns out Pruitt would direct his staff to“find me something to do [in those locations]” he wanted to visit so he could use taxpayer money for the trip. He even told them to use Delta Airlines, even though it wasn't the government airline of contract for those routes, so that he would rack up frequent flyer miles.

Summary: Pruitt used an excessive amount of taxpayer money to travel in luxury on trips arranged by lobbyists conduct business that has nothing to do with the EPA and, by the way, meet with a child sex abuser (which he tried to keep secret). The only other thing to say is that we need to wonder why Pruitt hasn't been arrested.

17. UK Basketball Seats

In December 2017, Pruitt shared private seats with a coal baron at a University of Kentucky basketball game. These seats are reserved for people who donate at least \$1 million to the university. Billionaire coal company executive Joseph W. Craft III and his wife donated \$10 million to the university and contributed \$2 million to Trump’s campaign. Pruitt claims to have paid \$130 for each of two tickets, but says he paid cash so there is no record to support this claim. The university has stated Pruitt paid ‘market value’ for the tickets. Is that true? Let’s look at the numbers. According to ESPN, UK had 24 home games in the regular season, meaning Craft paid an average of \$416,667 per game. I don’t know how many seats Craft had, but he would need to have over 3200 seats for the average value to be \$130 per seat. Further, according to the university’s website, seats in the reserved area go for between \$1000 and \$5000. Even if Pruitt did pay the \$130, the amount he paid would qualify as a gift under federal law.

But, that’s only part of the problem. The real issue is that Pruitt met with Craft at least seven times in the first 14 months on the job. Craft is the president, CEO, and director of Alliance Resource Partners, a fossil fuel company, and had never set foot in the EPA before Pruitt became administrator. Alliance, of course, is subject to EPA regulations. Further, Craft was a regular contributor to Pruitt’s campaigns for Oklahoma attorney general. Incidentally, the EPA cut back on the regulations Craft was opposed to.

Summary: Pruitt received expensive gifts in the form of exclusive basketball tickets from someone subject to EPA regulations and that person has met privately with Pruitt, in both his persona as EPA administrator and Oklahoma attorney general. The EPA made rulings favorable to that person. This has all the earmarks of a quid pro quo.

18. Use of Security Lights to Avoid Traffic

Pruitt reportedly ordered his security detail to use the sirens and emergency lights on his vehicle to get through traffic when he was running late for meetings or dinner dates. When the security person refused, he was fired. When questioned, he gave a non-answer by stating he "didn't recall that happening." That doesn't mean it didn't happen, it only means he didn't want to answer questions about it. Oh, EPA emails reveal that Pruitt did order it.

As an interesting tidbit, when he fired the security chief, the man he was replaced with was the same individual who got a security contract for his business partner (See #15 above.)

Summary: As part of his habit of feeling entitled, Pruitt abused his government position for his own benefit by inconveniencing the people of Washington, D.C. already stuck in bad traffic.

19. Using Aide for Personal Business

As discussed in the section on his condo rental, Pruitt instructed his aide, Millan Hupp, to perform personal chores for him, even requiring her to do these chores on her private time and vacations. There were others, including her to book his private travel and the strange instruction to investigate purchasing a used mattress from a Trump hotel (Why would he specifically want a used mattress?). He also wanted her to arrange a meeting for his wife to investigate getting a Chick-fil-A franchise.

This is in line with Pruitt's notorious cheapness. By using his taxpayer supported aide, he was saving a few bucks of his own money. Likewise, getting a used mattress is cheaper than buying a new one. You think that's a stretch? Then, explain how it is he was told to cut back on the number of times he ate at the discount cafeteria. And, it appears he even told his high-priced 24/7 security to get him lotion from the Ritz Carlton. Why didn't he just go online and order it?

Incidentally, Ms. Hupp has now resigned from the EPA. When a reporter called to verify this, she was told she was 'a piece of trash.'

Summary: This is a clear violation of federal ethics law prohibiting officials from using their positions for personal gain.

20. Below Market Tickets for Rose Bowl

An Oklahoma businessman with ties to the fossil fuel industry helped Scott Pruitt get four tickets for himself and his family to the 2018 Rose Bowl. Pruitt reportedly paid \$175 each for the tickets. The New York Times valued the tickets' worth at seven times that much. That would be a value of about \$4900 for the four tickets.

The more I think about this, the more I feel there's a lot more to the story. Let's do some math.

Even if Pruitt only paid \$175 per ticket, that would be \$700 for tickets alone. He then had to fly his family to Pasadena for the game. Of course, he flies first class at taxpayer expense, but what about his family? I'm sure even the corrupt people who work deals for him would balk at the idea of taxpayers paying for the family tickets. Round trip tickets between Oklahoma City and LA run about \$450 each for coach. I'm going to assume Pruitt is cheap and made his family ride coach while he sat in first class. The seat may be first class, but Pruitt isn't. But, even at coach fares, that would be \$1350 for the other three seats.

Let's assume taxpayers got stiffed for the vehicle and let's assume taxpayers also got stuck paying for his hotel room (with his wife). This would be a violation of the law in that this was not job related, but we'll assume he found some meeting to go to for 30 minutes in order to justify the expense. That still leaves a hotel room for the kids. I'm going to assume two nights. Pruitt has earned a reputation as someone who thinks he's entitled and isn't going to stay in a budget rate motel. Upscale hotels average \$500 per night during the Rose Bowl period (even Motel 6 is \$200 per night). That's another \$1000.

Throw in meals, parking, and other various expenses for four people and that's maybe another \$1000. All total, you're looking at a total bill of somewhere in the range of \$4000 - after what taxpayers got stuck for. Here's the problem I have with this - Pruitt is so cheap that he's trying to get his wife a job to help support households in both D.C. and Oklahoma. Why in the world would someone this cheap pay \$4000 out of pocket to go see a football game. Was the fact that the Oklahoma Sooners were in the game provide sufficient motivation for him? Isn't it more likely that he got these expenses paid for by his lobbyist friends or fossil fuel buddies? That would be a very severe ethical violation. But, of course, Pruitt has shown he isn't concerned with ethical violations. Those are for other people, not him.

If there's any justice to be found, the Sooners lost 54 - 48.

Summary: Even is you want to assume Pruitt paid fair market value for the tickets (a bad assumption), the math indicates there is still more to this story. Cheapskate Pruitt is not likely to have paid out a minimum of \$4000 to take his family to a football game.

21. Pruitt Altered Federal Records

It's Monday - there must be a new Scott Pruitt scandal. Yep, right on time, we find out Pruitt changed his official calendar to hide meetings from the public. This is not trivial. The administrator's calendar is a federal record and belongs to the government, i.e. the American people. Altering, changing, or destroying federal documents is a federal crime. 44 U.S.C., Chapter 31 states,
The head of each Federal agency shall make and preserve records containing adequate and proper documentation of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and essential transactions of the agency and designed to furnish the information necessary to protect the legal and financial rights of the Government and of persons directly affected by the agency’s activities.
Who the administrator is meeting and when falls under this description.

The latest revelation comes from whistleblower and former deputy chief of staff for operations Kevin Chmielewski who states that Pruitt supervised meetings where Pruitt's calendar was reviewed and scrubbed of meetings Pruitt didn't want made public. CNN was able to verify these claims by comparing documents which showed known meetings were not included in the administrator's official calendar. This raises a whole series of new questions such as, 'Why does Pruitt want to hide these meetings?' and 'Why is he meeting with these people in secret?'. The way I see it, the biggest question is 'When is Pruitt going to be arrested?'

However, I do not harbor any false hope that this will result in Pruitt's dismissal. Trump has clearly demonstrated he will forgive any swampiness as long as it contributes to his own corruption. Pruitt's actions at the EPA have benefited Trump financially. So, why would Trump want to get rid of Pruitt?

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Judge Orders Pruitt to Produce Supporting Science

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt stated that CO2 is not 'a primary contributor to the global warming that we are seeing.' It stands to reason that his hatred of science was going to get him in trouble eventually, and it did. The group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed a FOIA seeking the studies Pruitt used to support that conclusion. Now, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for DC has ordered the EPA to comply.

There is no science refuting the findings that manmade emissions are causing global warming and climate change. That means Pruitt will either have to admit he was wrong (not going to happen), or he will be forced to produce invalid claims by denier groups that have already been debunked.

Stayed tuned. This should get interesting.