Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt for years has been a known shill for energy-industry polluters. But he might have finally committed an act so brazenly corrupt he loses his job: It turns out Pruitt was spending only $50 per day to live in a prime-location D.C. townhouse owned by the family of an ultrapowerful oil-and-utility-industry lobbyist.
The lobbying firm in question, as New Times reported last week, has accepted $1 million from Florida Power & Light and its parent company, NextEra Energy. Now the story has yet another Miami tie: Multiple South Florida Republicans in D.C. are turning on Pruitt and demanding his resignation. Both longtime Miami Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and her junior colleague, Carlos Curbelo, are asking Pruitt to step down. The two GOP reps have been vocal about their distaste for him since the U.S. Senate confirmed him last year. (Florida's junior senator, Marco Rubio, however, voted in favor of giving Pruitt the job.)
Ros-Lehtinen tweeted yesterday that the EPA needs a new chief:
Curbelo, who might well lose his reelection bid this year after he voted
Major policy differences aside, @EPAScottPruitt‘s corruption scandals are an embarrassment to the Administration, and his conduct is grossly disrespectful to American taxpayers. It's time for him to resign or for @POTUS to dismiss him. https://t.co/gXWLDffqam— Rep. Carlos Curbelo (@RepCurbelo) April 3, 2018
It's worth noting that
Of course, their political responses have largely been weak and ineffectual: Ros-Lehtinen responded to Pruitt's 2017 comments by simply calling them "disconcerting and troubling." Curbelo called them "reckless." Pruitt then pretty much skated by without much media coverage for most of last year, at least compared to other Trump cabinet members.
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Still, it's a testament to the reality of climate change that two of Miami's most powerful sitting Republicans are forced to admit they believe in the science. Compared to Curbelo's statements, Ros-Lehtinen's comments yesterday were likely far
Curbelo, however, is fighting for his life in a blue-leaning district after he pissed off scores of voters by supporting the GOP's attempts to roll back Obamacare and cut taxes for the rich in 2017 while failing to fight for the tens of thousands of Dreamers in South Florida.
But the ordeal this week shows the brazenness of Pruitt's corruption: According to ABC News, which broke the story, the family that runs one of the most powerful energy-and-oil-lobbying firms in America let Pruitt and his daughter rent out the family's luxury D.C. townhouse for pennies on the dollar. While Pruitt was living in that townhouse, his agency approved a natural gas pipeline project pushed for by the very lobbying firm in question, Williams
As multiple Trump cabinet members have learned in the past 12 months (see: Tom Price), a certain level of graft might eventually cost them their jobs.