Inhofe on Pruitt — ‘We’ve had enough’

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2018

Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, one of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s closest allies on Capitol Hill, issued the agency chief and fellow Oklahoman a stern warning today after yet another controversy emerged.

During an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham this morning, the senator from Oklahoma was asked about a string of reports involving the use of staff, overspending and other controversies Pruitt is facing.

While defending Pruitt’s track record for rolling back Obama-era regulations and taking a tough historical stand against EPA, Inhofe also suggested his political support is on shaky ground.

“I’m afraid my good friend Scott Pruitt has done some things that really surprised me, and I’m the one to say this because frankly he’s a good friend of mine, I flew him in my airplane around the state in his first campaign,” said Inhofe. “But all these things that are coming out are really not good things.

“He needs to do the job and quit worrying about these other things because every day something new comes out,” Inhofe continued. “If that doesn’t stop, I’m going to be forced to be in a position to say, ‘Well, Scott, you’re not doing your job,’ and hopefully that will change.”

Inhofe during the interview said he was sending a “communication” over to EPA saying, “We’ve had enough of these things, we need to get down and do the job we’re elected to do.”

The EPA administrator is facing a mounting list of allegations of professional misconduct — from taking security guards to fetch Ritz-Carlton Hotel lotion to using government resources to inquire about a Chick-fil-A franchise for his wife (Climatewire, June 11).

Inhofe said the reports are upsetting and “there’s a guy behind him, Andrew Wheeler, who’s qualified, too, so that might be a good swap.”

Wheeler is EPA’s deputy administrator, confirmed by the Senate this April, and a former longtime aide to Inhofe.

While President Trump has continuously offered support for the EPA chief, a number of Republicans have grown increasingly vocal about their frustration with the buzz around Pruitt, including the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon. Walden told reporters last week the “constant drip needs to stop” for the health of the agency (E&E Daily, June 7).

Adding to the chorus is the Iowa-based American Future Fund, a conservative and free market 501(c)(4) nonprofit that began airing ads calling for Pruitt’s ouster for overspending.

Ingraham herself said she has talked to top conservatives, and Pruitt is hurting Trump because he’s making “bad judgment after bad judgment after bad judgment” and that “if you want to drain the swamp, you got to have people in it who forgo personal benefits.”

She also took to Twitter after the interview to call for Pruitt to step down, citing a story in The Hill that references a Washington Post report about the EPA boss. The newspaper reported that Pruitt tapped his former policy chief, Samantha Dravis, to help contact Republican donors who might offer his wife, Marlyn, a job. According to the newspaper, Pruitt eventually secured her a position with a conservative political group that backed him for years.

“PRUITT BAD JUDGMENT HURTING @POTUS, GOTTA GO: Pruitt had aide, GOP donors help wife find job: report,” tweeted the conservative pundit and avid Trump supporter.

EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporter Kevin Bogardus contributed.