In this March 10, 2016 photo, Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma Attorney General, gestures as he speaks during an interview in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Photo by Sue Ogrocki/AP

At the EPA, Scott Pruitt’s troubles share a common thread

As a rule, when EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is in the news, it’s probably not for a good reason. The Hill  reported late yesterday, for example, that the far-right EPA chief “had his office professionally examined earlier this year to look for covert surveillance devices.”

The EPA paid $3,000 in March to Edwin Steinmetz Associates to do a “sweep for covert/illegal surveillance devices” in Administrator Scott Pruitt’s office at the agency’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, documents provided to The Hill show.

The EPA source who provided the documents on the condition of anonymity said the sweep, which came weeks after Pruitt’s arrival at the agency, did not uncover any bugs.

This followed a New York Times  report from the other day that said after some EPA employees complained to Pruitt about the agency’s direction, “requests were submitted for copies of emails written by them that mentioned either Mr. Pruitt or President Trump, or any communication with Democrats in Congress that might have been critical of the agency.”

That came on the heels of a Washington Post  report that Pruitt spent nearly $25,000 of taxpayer money to “construct a secure, soundproof communications booth” for reasons that don’t make a lot of sense. (The project is now being investigated by the EPA’s inspector general.)

That news was published around the time CNN reported that the EPA’s custodial staff is not allowed to enter Pruitt’s office on their own, and in the hallway around his office, “security employees check government IDs against a list of employees who are approved for access.”

And that followed reports that Pruitt, unlike his predecessors, has an around-the-clock security detail, which apparently includes 30 guards who work in shifts.

I’m starting to think the EPA chief approaches his work with a great deal of anxiety.