Everything Scott Pruitt Did at EPA That Would Get You Fired
No matter what job you work, you have to know the protocol. In some workplaces, showing up late a few times will put you on the hot seat; in others, you can stroll into work with a hangover telling stories of the night before without angering the boss.
Then there’s the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under head administrator Scott Pruitt. As a member of the Trump Cabinet, he’s basically an employee of the president (and by extension the American people). However, after a dozen or so scandals in little more than a year, Pruitt seems determined to break every rule that employed people respect.
While Pruitt’s ethics violations and abuses of power would mean termination in any other line of work, he continues on in his position. Here are 10 things Pruitt has done at EPA that would get anyone else fired, ranked by severity.
10. Constantly running late
- His habit of running behind schedule racks up huge costs.
Pruitt’s massive security detail — unprecedented in EPA history — has its hands full trying to get the administrator places on time. Apparently, he often runs late, as was the case in June 2017 while traveling from New York to Rome.
In order to make his flight on time, Pruitt hopped in a military jet and ran up a $36,000 tab for the quick trip from Cincinnati to New York City. When in D.C., the story is much the same. Is he a busy man or someone who doesn’t know how time works?
Next: No one expenses first-class flights like Pruitt.
9. Flying first class instead of coach
- Coach flights (aka people) make Scott Pruitt uncomfortable.
If you began booking first-class seats for plane trips when you had the option to pay less than half, your boss wouldn’t approve the expense — and would think less of you, too. Basically, your days would be numbered if you kept trying to abuse company funds this way.
In Pruitt’s case, he kept choosing the expensive option whenever taxpayers footed the bill. EPA administrators never did this in the past, but Pruitt explained he felt uncomfortable by the “lack of civility” and potential security threat. (Most people call this “life.”)
When he traveled home to Oklahoma and had to pay for his own airfare, Pruitt flew coach — civility and threats be damned.
Next: What would your boss think if you wanted a bulletproof desk?
8. Displaying extreme paranoia at the office
- A bulletproof desk can only protect you in a land of make-believe.
We know Pruitt spent millions on security and travel in a year at EPA, but inside the agency things were just as lavish and, in a word, paranoid. We’ll start with the $43,000 soundproof booth Pruitt had made for him, even though a secure room already exists at EPA.
He claimed he needed it so no one could listen in on his correspondence. Then, things got even darker when America learned Pruitt asked for a bulletproof desk costing $70,000.
That move will make most people wonder: Would a shooter have to be on the other side of the desk for this to work? Can’t he shoot over the desk in this paranoid hallucination?
Next: If the CEO of any major company hid from the press, they’d be canned.
7. Hiding from the press
- What CEO is afraid to talk to the press?
Every organization faces turmoil and occasional press scrutiny. At those times, everyone assumes the CEO will step up and face the press to manage the situation. It’s what you’d expect from someone Trump called “very courageous” on April 5.
Yet Pruitt never does face the music, instead preferring to hide in the confines of Fox News and conservative think tanks. According to Media Matters for America, Pruitt’s appearances broke down the following way in 2017:
- 15 interviews at Fox News
- 13 interviews on conservative radio
- 7 interviews on Fox Business
- 8 interviews on CNN, ABC, MSNBC, CNBC, and NBC combined
If you’re keeping score, that would be 35-8 in favor of conservative outlets. Someone should tell Pruitt to get out of his bubble sometime and act like a business leader.
Next: When even first-class travel won’t suit you, there’s a problem.
6. Flying private jet when first class won’t cut it
- But what if it only cost $1.2 million a year?
Pruitt spent $833,000 on travel in his first three months at EPA, which was of course historically wasteful. In addition to the security detail that exceeded 30 people at times, Pruitt sometimes flew on private jets.
In fact, he liked it so much he asked for a private jet lease that would cost taxpayers $100,000 a month ($1.2 million per year). Some bold government administrator turned it down, but most people would be fired just for asking.
Next: Nothing gets mortals fired quicker than saying “I’m God.”
5. Abusing your power
- Pruitt ran sirens to make a dinner reservation — and demoted anyone who questioned him.
Imagine a rookie cop running his siren to pick up some Chinese food, or firefighters stopping traffic so they could get back to the firehouse in time to watch the Yankees game. Their superiors would reprimand or fire them immediately.
Scott Pruitt did just that — had his security team run sirens for him — so he could make dinner reservations at a French restaurant in D.C. (Le Diplomate), The New York Times reported.
When his security team questioned this abuse of power, Pruitt had the agent reassigned. If God does as He pleases, shouldn’t Pruitt?
Next: Setting aside the drama, Pruitt’s work has been poor.
4. Sloppy, mediocre work
- Much of Pruitt’s work won’t hold up in court.
The GOP argument for keeping Pruitt goes like this: He’s been so effective at destroying the Obama EPA’s work, he’s worth all the corruption. However, six of his efforts to dismantle Obama regulations have already failed in court. (That’s in less than one year.)
Former EPA administrators and environmental experts say Pruitt’s work generally goes light on science and data — the stuff courts look for when the public health is concerned. So Trump may get all the corruption but not the results.
It was the same when Pruitt sued the EPA 14 times as the Oklahoma Attorney General: He lost nearly every lawsuit launched on behalf of corporations.
Next: Would trading housing for influence get you fired?
3. Trading influence for a sweetheart rental
- No one in Pruitt’s D.C. neighborhood pays $50 a night.
Say, hypothetically, your job was controlling environmental policy for the richest country in the world. If an energy lobbyist gave you an apartment in a posh downtown neighborhood for $50 a night, how would you repay that lobbyist’s clients?
For those who missed this blockbuster scandal, we even know what Pruitt gave this lobbyist in return: approval of an extension for an oil pipeline.
Anyone else who had this story in the news for weeks would be fired fast. Especially if you omitted many details when investigators asked about the arrangement. (Yep, Pruitt did that, too,)
Next: Hiring your friends might work. Giving them raises in secret? Not so much.
2. Going behind your boss’ back to give friends a raise
- No employee would survive this one.
For this one, we’ll start by noting Pruitt hired two friends from Oklahoma to work as aides at EPA. That’s normal for this swamp-on-steroids corrupt administration, but the plot really thickens from there.
Though both already great huge salaries, Pruitt wanted to give them massive raises. The Atlantic detailed how it worked out:
- Millan Hupp, a political appointee aged 26, saw his salary jump from $86,460 to $114,590 ($28,130, or +33%)
- Sarah Greenwalt, a political appointee aged 30, got herself a raise from from $107,435 to $164,200 ($56,765, or +50%)
The thing is, the White House declined those raises. But Pruitt found a back-door way to put them on the taxpayers’ tab and got them anyway. Would your boss would be OK with this?
Next: OK, but what if you lied about the not-approved raises when questioned about it?
1. Lying about the raises you gave your friends
- You don’t fix deception by lying.
When Pruitt wanted to explain away his pay-raise scandal, he turned to faithful Fox News. Unfortunately, even his interviewer at that network couldn’t ignore this level of corruption.
Instead of acknowledging his deception, Pruitt said he never knew about it and would hold people accountable. But — you won’t believe this — it turned out there are emails showing he knew about the raises and supported them 100%.
We’ll let one of Pruitt’s EPA staff members take it from here: “The second we saw the Fox interview, we all said he was lying,” the official told ABC.
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