WITH THE Trump era’s constant churn and chaos, what would be career-ending scandals in any other time do not get the sustained attention they deserve. The proof: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who continues to serve though seemingly every day a new story emerges about his petty corruption, almost comical were it not so contemptuous of ethical public service.
The week began with a story about Mr. Pruitt’s misuse of a government employee’s time on strange personal matters. It had already been reported that the administrator had enlisted Millan Hupp, his recently departed director of scheduling and advance, to search for Washington-area homes for him. Then, on Monday, two Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) revealing that Ms. Hupp last September contacted the Trump International Hotel asking whether Mr. Pruitt could buy a used Trump Home Luxury Plush Euro Pillow Top mattress. According to the letter, Ms. Hupp also planned the administrator’s trip to California to see the Oklahoma Sooners play in the Rose Bowl.
The government does not hire servants to do menial private tasks for Cabinet members. In fact, federal rules forbid subordinates even from volunteering their time to call around about used mattresses, barring donations or gifts to superiors.
On Tuesday, The Post’s Juliet Eilperin, Brady Dennis and Josh Dawsey reported that Mr. Pruitt had Ms. Hupp’s sister, Sydney Hupp, also an EPA employee at the time, contact the chief executive of fast-food chain Chick-fil-A to arrange a meeting. The subject: obtaining a restaurant franchise for Mr. Pruitt’s wife, Marlyn. A phone call was arranged, then canceled, and the administrator eventually spoke with the restaurant chain’s legal department, only then revealing what he wanted. Ms. Pruitt never became a franchisee. But she did benefit from another instance of her husband’s inside-track advocacy, getting a temporary event-planning gig from Concordia, a nonprofit, after Mr. Pruitt reached out to its boss.
Not only are these new examples of the administrator misusing EPA staff time, they also show that Mr. Pruitt tried to leverage his high office to obtain business opportunities for his wife. This is in keeping with Mr. Pruitt’s record, starting with his time as a politician in Oklahoma, of aggressively pursuing favors, perks and other baubles as he ascended the ranks of government.
The week ended with yet more reports that Mr. Pruitt ordered staff to pick up his dry cleaning and get him snacks.
Mr. Pruitt’s EPA has spent lavishly on a 24-hour security detail, first-class airline tickets and foreign trips that had little to do with his job as the nation’s top environmental steward. He has obtained costly renovations to his office, including a $43,000 soundproof booth in which Mr. Pruitt could conduct private meetings — totally unnecessary because there were already secure communications rooms at EPA headquarters. He has maintained untoward relationships with lobbyists, including one whose wife rented Mr. Pruitt a Capitol Hill condo on extremely generous terms.
Mr. Pruitt is the embodiment of President Trump’s hypocrisy on the Washington “swamp.” The president has not drained the swamp; he has deepened the sleaziness.