GUEST VIEW: Scott Pruitt’s bad judgment

The following editorial was published in the Chicago Tribune:

(TNS) Under Scott Pruitt’s leadership, EPA stands for Ethical Problems Abound. Or is it Ethical Practices Avoided?

Either way, the administrator of what’s otherwise known as the Environmental Protection Agency got a sweet deal last year on a living space in Washington, D.C., for which he now should answer.

According to ABC News and Bloomberg, Pruitt rented a bedroom in a Capitol Hill duplex for $50 a night. The building is co-owned by Vicki Hart, a health care lobbyist. She is married to J. Steven Hart, a lobbyist whose firm represents clients in the energy sector among other industries. Pruitt paid only for nights he used the room, thus avoiding the cost of a full-time rental.

Like we said, a sweet deal.

Pruitt is the government official who faced scrutiny for flying first-class on short domestic flights and spending $25,000 on a soundproof communications booth for his office. He has no issue spending taxpayer money, but for short-term living arrangements last year he turned to friends whose livelihoods depend on government access. It’s not hard to imagine the Harts being generous to Pruitt and then bragging to clients just how tight they are with a member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet.

Justina Fugh, the EPA’s senior ethics counsel, said Pruitt’s lease was a routine business arrangement. No — routine would be splitting the cost of a crash pad. What Pruitt got sounds like special treatment for a government official. Pruitt should have recognized that. If he can’t behave ethically, he shouldn’t be in government service.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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