Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt is violating a federal anti-campaigning law with an upcoming Republican fundraiser, a Senate Democrat says.Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) sent a letter Tuesday to Carolyn Lerner, the head of the Office of Special Counsel, seeking an investigation into Pruitt's plan to be the keynote speaker an Oklahoma Republican Party gala next week.
The principal problem with Scott Pruitt leading the Environmental Protection Agency is that he appears to be overtly hostile, not only to environmental protections in general, but to the work of the agency he leads in specific.But while Pruitt's work as the EPA chief is itself controversial, there are several other controversies swirling around Pruitt directly that, in a normal administration, might very well put the Oklahoma Republican's career in jeopardy.We've learned recently, for example, that Pruitt used private email to conduct official business, though he gave sworn congressional testimony in which he said the opposite. Pruitt is also accused of illegally hiding correspondence that documented his cooperation with the oil and gas industries during his tenure as Oklahoma's attorney general. As if this weren't enough, there's also evidence pointing to Pruitt's role in a botched execution in Oklahoma.And yesterday, yet another controversy emerged regarding the EPA administrator's work.
This doesn't look great for the far-right EPA chief.Pruitt apparently agreed recently to help the Oklahoma GOP raise money, and the invitation to donors points to Pruitt's work at the EPA to "slash regulations" and scrap environmental safeguards.The Hatch Act places restrictions on high-ranking officials using their offices to advance a partisan political agenda, and Sheldon Whitehouse raised a pretty compelling point."In short, the unmistakable impression one receives from the May 5 invitation is that by purchasing a ticket or agreeing to sponsor the OKGOP Gala, the attendee will have special access to a federal employee discussing official actions already taken, and to be taken in the future," the Democratic senator wrote. "This is clearly impermissible political activity under the Hatch Act."Pruitt didn't need yet another controversy, but he apparently has one.