Scott Pruitt has been in the spotlight for a series of somewhat ridiculous personal expenses (paid by taxpayers) such as “tactical pants” ($3,000), 12 fancy personalized pens ($130 each), a soundproof telephone booth ($43,000), and a 24/7 security detail ($4.6 million) as well as well as first class travel around the world, art leased from the Smithsonian for his office, cheap housing and an all-around lavish lifestyle funded by taxpayers. Even Republicans are questioning Pruitt’s spending habits. “This doesn’t look good,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said.
Despite the many scandals of Pruitt, he remains immune to consequences, mainly because he has been effective in advancing Trump’s environmental agenda. The personal scandals may even serve as a distraction as Pruitt makes enormous changes to U.S. science and environmental policy.
“I think that the scale of impact is pretty extraordinary, with federal regulatory measures that will impact every single person in the United States, when it comes to things like pesticides and toxic chemicals and air pollution and water pollution. The consequences of it are so enormous,” said Eric Lipton, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter at the New York Times, who has been following Pruitt’s activities at the EPA.
National Geographic is keeping a running list of the ways Pruitt and Trump are working to damage the environment. Pruitt’s grotesque ethics violations have a financial impact on taxpayers. But behind the scenes, his collaborations with polluters will ultimately have a much more dire impact.