At face value, it’s awfully difficult to defend EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s $50-per-night living arrangement at the Capitol Hill condo of a lobbyist with business before the EPA. And if you’re thinking that someone really ought to investigate what transpired, I have some good news for you.
EPA’s watchdog has opened an investigation into Administrator Scott Pruitt’s rent deal with the wife of an energy lobbyist.
In letters sent [last week] to Democratic Reps. Don Beyer of Virginia and Ted Lieu of California, EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins confirmed that his office would look into a lease Pruitt signed to rent a room on Capitol Hill for $50 a night.
Time will tell, of course, what that investigation turns up, but with a new investigation underway into the scandal-plagued EPA chief, this seemed like a good time to take stock. Just how many investigations is Scott Pruitt currently facing?
I’m pretty sure the new total recently reached double digits, so let’s count them up:
1. The EPA’s inspector general is investigating Pruitt’s controversial travel habits.
2. The House Oversight Committee is also exploring the EPA chief’s use of public funds for first-class travel.
3. The EPA’s inspector general is investigating Pruitt’s behind-the-scenes talks with the National Mining Association.
4. Pruitt’s exorbitant spending on an around-the-clock security detail is the subject of three inspector general investigations.
5. The House Oversight Committee is also examining the EPA chief’s security expenditures.
6. The Government Accountability Office has already investigated Pruitt for exceeding federal spending limits when he bought a $43,000 phone booth for his office.
7. The White House Office of Management and Budget is also investigating the phone booth.
8. The EPA’s inspector general is investigating Pruitt’s use of funds set aside for the Safe Drinking Water Act and diverting the money to give generous raises to two of his top aides.
9. The EPA’s inspector general is investigating Pruitt’s four-day trip to Morocco late last year.
10. The Government Accountability Office is investigating Pruitt’s ouster of scientists from the EPA’s science advisory committee.
11. The Government Accountability Office is investigating whether Pruitt broke lobbying laws with comments he made to the National Cattleman’s Beef Association.
12. The House Oversight Committee is investigating Pruitt’s living arrangement at a lobbyist’s condo.
13. And as noted above, the EPA’s inspector general is now also taking a closer look at Pruitt’s time at that condo.
While that’s an extraordinary number of investigations into one official’s on-the-job activities – remember, Pruitt has only been on the job about 14 months – this list may yet grow. Congressional Democrats, for example, have requested an investigation into Pruitt’s use of four separate email accounts, some of which may not have been fully disclosed or included in public-records searches.