Scott Pruitt loves his perks, whether he's really entitled to them or not, and regardless of whether they involve an obvious conflict of interest like this latest incident with the coal baron that the Environmental Protection Agency, which he leads, is supposed to regulate.
This New York Times article blows the whistle on Pruitt, outing him for sitting in the best courtside seats with his son at a University of Kentucky basketball game in a section reserved for those who had donated at least $1 million to the university.
Details from The Times
The special access for Mr. Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, also included watching from the players’ entrance as the team streamed onto the court, and posing for a photo with a star player in the locker room area.
But there was more to the game last December than a superfan experience for Mr. Pruitt and his son, who joined him. They sat in seats belonging to Joseph W. Craft III, a billionaire coal executive who has engaged in an aggressive campaign to reverse the Obama administration’s environmental crackdown on the coal industry. (BF added) Mr. Craft and his wife donated more than $2 million to support President Trump’s candidacy and inauguration.
Mr. Pruitt’s attendance at the game, the details of which have not been previously reported, followed a year of regulatory victories for Mr. Craft, who maintains close ties to Mr. Pruitt even as he has lobbied the E.P.A. on issues important to his company, Alliance Resource Partners. And unlike other executives with whom Mr. Pruitt is known to have close ties — like the oilman Harold Hamm or the coal mogul Robert E. Murray — Mr. Craft has stayed relatively under the radar.
It is incredible that Pruitt continues to so blatantly abuse his position. Just last week he was reported to have spent more than $1,500 on 12 customized fountain pens from a fancy Washington, DC jewelry store. This follows, of course, the many reports of other abuses like his first class travel (for safety reasons), building a soundproof phone booth in his office, and more.
But this latest report of Pruitt taking what some would consider a flat-out bribe from an industry he is supposed to regulate is unconscionable. Trump reportedly loves Pruitt because he is fulfilling the President's desire to rollback virtually every environmental protection established by President Obama, clearing the way for abusive behavior by industry.
He can sugar coat this all he wants, but what he did is a conflict of interest at best and a bribe at worst. Trump said he was going to drain the swamp. Instead he filled it with rats.