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EPA chief Scott Pruitt's long list of controversies

A steady stream of negative headlines involving Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt in recent ...

Posted: Apr 7, 2018 9:09 AM
Updated: Apr 7, 2018 9:09 AM

A steady stream of negative headlines involving Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt in recent weeks and months has official Washington wondering whether the embattled agency chief can hold onto his job.

During his time at EPA, Pruitt has worked to carry out key elements of President Donald Trump's agenda, overseeing a rollback of Obama-era environmental regulations. But he has also been caught up in a series of unfolding controversies over everything from first-class travel, security expenses, and a decision to rent a room in Washington, DC, tied to an energy lobbyist.

When Pruitt took up his post at EPA, he was already a controversial figure. As Oklahoma attorney general, he sued the agency he now leads over environmental regulations and suggested that the debate over global warming is "far from settled."

Here's a look at the lengthy list of controversies and allegations that Pruitt has become embroiled in during his time at the administration:

- Multiple senior EPA officials, including a career official and political appointees, were sidelined or demoted after they raised concerns or pushed back on the amount of money Pruitt has spent as EPA chief on expenses such as travel as well as his management of the agency, two sources confirmed to CNN.

An EPA spokesman has disputed the claims, calling the employees in question "disgruntled."

- In late March, ABC News reported that Pruitt stayed in a condo co-owned by Vicki Hart, a lobbyist whose husband, J. Steven Hart, works for a firm that has lobbied on energy issues. A Bloomberg report said the deal on the condo gave Pruitt a price of $50 a night for a bedroom, and only on nights when he slept there.

CNN has reported that White House officials are exasperated by the housing controversy.

- The Washington Post reported that Pruitt knew and approved of a plan to grant large raises to two aides -- a timeline that appears to clash with claims the EPA administrator made in an interview with Fox News earlier in this week. During the interview, Pruitt said he only found out that aides got raises the day before. In the interview, Pruitt said the raises "should not have happened." The Atlantic has reported that Pruitt defied the White House to grant the raises and a pair of Senate Democrats are now calling for an investigation. The inspector general was already auditing how Pruitt's leadership uses "administratively determined positions."

- Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse sent a letter to the inspector general of the EPA that said Pruitt's constant security included even personal trips to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl.

- The Environmental Integrity Project obtained heavily redacted documents from the EPA that showed the agency spent more than $30,000 on security for Pruitt's 2017 trip to Italy.

- A report from The Washington Post in mid-March said documents the EPA provided to Congress outlined further travel expenses from Pruitt, totaling about $68,000 and including a nearly $20,000, four-day trip to Morocco and a series of first class flights.

- CNN reported in early March that Pruitt was one of four Cabinet-level officials the White House scolded in February over stories about questionable ethics at their agencies.

- In February, questions over Pruitt's travel prompted House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy to announce an inquiry into Pruitt's practices, and in response to the committee's request for documents, the EPA did not appear to turn over travel waivers granted to Pruitt for first-class travel.

- Pruitt defended his first-class travel in February by saying it was for security purposes, citing the "toxic environment" in politics and implying he was less likely to face threats in a first-class crowd.

- EPA documents reviewed by CNN in February showed attorneys for Pruitt's office justifying a series of charter flights last summer, including some $14,000 expended on travel around Oklahoma.

- In early October, the EPA inspector general said it was expanding its probe into Pruitt's travel, and the EPA told CNN that Pruitt used both a private plane and military jet to travel four times instead of flying commercial -- at a price of $60,000.

- Government records showed the EPA granted a roughly $25,000 contract last August for a highly secure, sound-proof booth -- known as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) -- for Pruitt. Former EPA employees said the agency had already maintained a private room.

- In August, the inspector general for the EPA said it was investigating Pruitt's travel back home to Oklahoma after a hotline complaint and expressions of concern from Congress followed travel records obtained by the Environmental Integrity Project that showed Pruitt spent an extensive amount of time traveling.

- EPA is fighting a lawsuit from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility that alleges the Pruitt administration is deliberately avoiding creating written records of meetings and decisions (so that there are no documents subject to leaking or FOIA) and that Pruitt "uses phones other than his own to deal with important EPA-related matters so the calls do not show up in his call logs."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 253932

Reported Deaths: 5524
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17120175
Hinds16207322
Harrison13353193
Rankin10689211
Jackson10303183
Lee8796141
Madison8232162
Jones6288110
Forrest5949119
Lauderdale5847180
Lowndes5355116
Lafayette494292
Lamar484165
Washington4777123
Bolivar3966108
Oktibbeha392480
Panola368378
Pontotoc362853
Monroe3533105
Warren348498
Union343060
Marshall341665
Neshoba3370152
Pearl River327899
Leflore3002105
Lincoln297085
Sunflower282669
Tate270862
Hancock266559
Alcorn263253
Itawamba262459
Pike262077
Scott246245
Prentiss245052
Yazoo244355
Copiah240849
Tippah240450
Simpson234867
Leake230564
Coahoma230054
Grenada217770
Covington211371
Marion210672
Adams204670
Winston200164
Wayne199630
George199038
Attala193559
Newton191342
Tishomingo184459
Chickasaw183644
Jasper169735
Holmes168567
Clay159033
Stone142320
Tallahatchie140134
Clarke138660
Calhoun135721
Smith120123
Yalobusha116534
Walthall111836
Noxubee110322
Greene109729
Montgomery109434
Carroll104221
Lawrence102417
Perry101631
Amite97725
Webster92224
Tunica86321
Claiborne86125
Jefferson Davis84125
Humphreys82924
Benton81523
Kemper77120
Quitman6888
Franklin66415
Choctaw60313
Wilkinson58325
Jefferson53819
Sharkey42717
Issaquena1596
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 422598

Reported Deaths: 6120
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson62039921
Mobile30225548
Madison27052186
Tuscaloosa20728267
Montgomery18978305
Shelby18504114
Baldwin16251182
Lee12465101
Morgan12233113
Etowah11735168
Calhoun11122200
Marshall10191107
Houston8598148
Cullman8023105
Limestone800274
Elmore7836101
DeKalb768397
Lauderdale754683
St. Clair7535120
Talladega6166108
Walker5897174
Jackson580341
Colbert532073
Blount530483
Autauga518455
Coffee441056
Dale396181
Franklin366248
Chilton336165
Russell330310
Covington327268
Escambia316842
Dallas303196
Chambers282769
Clarke281433
Tallapoosa2616107
Pike248729
Marion245650
Lawrence243647
Winston226635
Bibb215147
Geneva201435
Marengo199029
Pickens196531
Hale175842
Barbour172936
Butler169658
Fayette168226
Cherokee160330
Henry153621
Monroe145217
Randolph139835
Washington137626
Clay126145
Crenshaw118744
Lamar118019
Cleburne117423
Macon114735
Lowndes110335
Wilcox103121
Bullock99028
Perry97419
Conecuh94420
Sumter89026
Greene76023
Coosa60515
Choctaw51224
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