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EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigns

President Donald Trump says he has accepted the resignation of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. CNN's Sara Ganim reports.

Posted: Jul 6, 2018 3:56 PM
Updated: Jul 6, 2018 4:08 PM

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt finally resigned. The decision does not come as much of a surprise to anyone who has been following the news. The only real question is why it took so long to happen.

Over his 18-month tenure, Pruitt, who was an anti-environmental warrior for the right, amassed a long record of ethically questionable practices and was facing over a dozen separate investigations. In the history books, he will likely go down as a poster child for Cabinet officials who didn't believe that conflicts of interest matter and who were willing to use their office for material gain.

Pruitt's alleged wrongdoing draws attention to an issue at the heart of the Trump administration: ethical corruption. Pruitt's problems comported with a White House that seems to mock concerns about good government, and the idea that public officials work first and foremost to serve the public interest and not for personal gain.

The tone was established when President Donald Trump did not create a strong and clear firewall between his own global business and the presidency. He left the sprawling family business -- the Trump Organization -- in the hands of his two sons and did very little to provide real assurances that his own actions, such as frequent, taxpayer-funded trips to Trump resorts, would not undermine the need to make sure that public officials act for the good of the country.

That's said, Pruitt is but one example of the ethics crisis. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson had to defend the purchase of a $31,000 dining set for his office, while Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke insisted he was not involved with the decision to grant a $300 million contract to a tiny company from his hometown to help with the recovery in Puerto Rico.

Then there was former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, who had to resign when the public learned of his traveling on expensive private jets and military aircraft. And who can ignore the numerous questions about the conflict of interest between the businesses of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner and the important roles they play in the White House?

But nobody in the administration, other than Trump, came to embody the ethics crisis facing the White House more than Pruitt. The EPA administrator would travel on private and military planes, instead of commercial airlines, when going home to Oklahoma. He allegedly had his staff undertake all sorts of personal requests, which included trying to find a job for his wife with the Republican Attorneys General Association, and exploring a business opportunity for her at Chick-fil-A. And, according to The Washington Post, one staffer had to go out looking for lotion that Pruitt wanted from Ritz Carlton hotels.

Meanwhile, his relationship with lobbyists was as shady as could be. Reporters discovered that Pruitt rented an apartment, at an extremely low rate, that was owned by a health care lobbyist whose husband was also a lobbyist who had worked on EPA-related issues. Another lobbyist arranged a December trip to Morocco.

Even Pruitt's resignation letter reflects the influence of the Trump presidency. Just as Trump never apologizes, Pruitt didn't either. Instead, he blamed his resignation on the "unrelating attacks" he and his family had endured.

The administration will certainly try to separate itself from Pruitt's scandals by either continuing to dismiss them as "fake news" or claiming they have nothing to do with the President. But Pruitt must be seen in the context of the Trump presidency. This is a President who has not taken ethics seriously and has no problem pushing the boundaries of what kinds of actions are permissible when public officials use their authority for personal gain.

In a White House that has been one continuous advertisement for the Trump name, it is not surprising that someone like Pruitt was allowed to serve for so long.

The biggest issue right now is not what happens next to Pruitt, but will the Republican Congress continue to live with the kinds of blurred ethical lines that have become normalized under Trump. Based on the past year and a half, the safe bet is probably yes.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 59881

Reported Deaths: 1693
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5176106
DeSoto321527
Madison227253
Rankin211128
Harrison206732
Jackson187434
Jones174057
Forrest161551
Washington145732
Lauderdale132188
Lee119430
Neshoba119087
Lamar110512
Oktibbeha104434
Warren96425
Lowndes95830
Scott95117
Bolivar93332
Copiah90323
Sunflower90322
Panola89611
Lafayette8619
Holmes83546
Leflore82759
Pike81932
Grenada80520
Yazoo76411
Leake76225
Lincoln73539
Wayne73121
Pontotoc7167
Simpson70726
Monroe68750
Coahoma64810
Tate63822
Marion59418
Adams57825
Covington57611
Winston56615
Marshall5568
George5395
Newton51411
Union51313
Attala49524
Pearl River48036
Tallahatchie44610
Walthall43918
Chickasaw42719
Noxubee41410
Claiborne39913
Smith37413
Calhoun3738
Jasper3738
Clay36414
Alcorn3494
Prentiss3316
Hancock32414
Yalobusha31210
Lawrence3075
Itawamba30610
Tishomingo3063
Clarke29725
Tippah29412
Montgomery2913
Humphreys26511
Tunica2526
Carroll24511
Greene22611
Kemper22315
Quitman2201
Perry2137
Amite2045
Jefferson Davis1966
Webster19512
Jefferson1916
Wilkinson18312
Sharkey1801
Stone1463
Choctaw1254
Benton1240
Franklin1112
Issaquena211
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 85278

Reported Deaths: 1531
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson11465225
Mobile8466188
Montgomery6093141
Madison481725
Tuscaloosa385161
Baldwin309521
Shelby295431
Marshall287830
Unassigned256950
Lee245540
Morgan215614
Etowah188424
DeKalb165011
Elmore156237
Walker145063
Calhoun14389
Houston127512
Dallas126523
Russell11851
St. Clair116911
Franklin116520
Limestone115512
Cullman109011
Colbert105011
Lauderdale102812
Autauga98820
Escambia95215
Talladega86213
Chambers80738
Tallapoosa80178
Jackson7833
Dale76318
Butler74335
Blount7043
Coffee6955
Covington68420
Chilton6735
Pike6447
Barbour5545
Lowndes54524
Marion52824
Marengo50614
Clarke4799
Hale44825
Bullock43611
Winston42610
Perry4193
Wilcox4009
Randolph38610
Monroe3853
Conecuh36310
Sumter36118
Bibb3602
Pickens3599
Macon30412
Washington30411
Lawrence2980
Crenshaw2793
Choctaw27112
Greene23911
Henry2383
Cherokee2227
Geneva2160
Clay2005
Lamar1912
Fayette1675
Cleburne1121
Coosa892
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