The Trump Administration is no stranger to controversy. Although Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump team over possible collusion with the Russians in their efforts to interfere in the 2016 election is the most well known of the Trump Administration scandals, there are many more. Now, there is another one to add to the list.
Current EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is ridiculously unqualified for his position, having sued the very agency he’s now leading multiple times in his former job as Oklahoma State Attorney General. He’s a pro-big business climate change-denier — and yet here we are, with him heading the government agency that’s supposed to be protecting the nation’s environment.
Earlier this fall, Pruitt appeared in a promotional video produced by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, urging opposition to the Obama-era Clean Water Rule.
Pruitt’s appearance in that video is an apparent violation of the law, and Oregon’s Democratic U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio has now revealed that the Government Accountability Office has agreed to pursue an investigation into the matter, at his urging.
In the video, Pruitt says that he is “trying to fix the challenges from the 2015 rule, where the Obama administration reimagined their authority under the Clean Water Act and defined a Water of the United States as being a puddle, a dry creek bed and ephemeral drainage ditches across this country.” The rule expanded the government’s authority to regulate what goes into our nation’s water supply — and the man who is supposed to be in charge of protecting the nation’s environment thinks that is a bad thing.
In the video, Pruitt urges farmers and ranchers to file public comments with the government in favor of his proposed changes to the law.
Besides the fact that Pruitt is prioritizing big business over the health and safety of the population here yet again, there’s a big problem — federal law prohibits Pruitt from using funds appropriated to his agency for “lobbying and publicity or propaganda purposes.” That’s exactly what he did by appearing in this video.
In that light, the GAO states that they will be picking up the issue of his appearance in the video “shortly,” as you can see for yourself in the letter below.
The GAO cited the Obama era-EPA for promotional activities associated with the institution of the rule Pruitt opposes; this time around, as last time, the EPA insists it did no wrong, framing the promotional video as nothing more than a media appearance.
Other Trump Administration officials have committed similar apparent crimes in the past; Sarah Huckabee Sanders, for instance, used her official Twitter at one point to promote her boss’ presidential campaign.
It’s an oddity in of itself for Trump to be keeping his 2020 campaign such a priority at this point in his administration, but that’s somewhat of a different story.
This issue is far from the first time that Pruitt himself has come under scrutiny. Like other Trump Administration officials, including the president, he has been working while in office to dismantle the accomplishments of previous administration, with little seeming regard for anything other than scoring political points.
For example, he refused to institute a ban on the dangerous pesticide chlorpyrifos, a chemical that causes health problems in children.
Pruitt’s refusal to institute that ban is a part of a pattern in the Trump Administration in which officials prioritize the concerns of corporations above the concerns of working class Americans.
Trump, as seen through the actions of his administration, is the champion of two kinds of people — belligerent racists and the wealthy.
Featured Image via Bloomberg/ Getty Images