Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt survived months of reports on his unethical behavior by lavishing praise on President Donald Trump and making himself a visible figure in the West Wing, The Washington Post reported Thursday evening.
Pruitt, a former Oklahoma attorney general, has been under scrutiny for months amid reports involving questionable spending on first-class plane tickets, use of security detail, connections with lobbyists and industry groups, and use of his office for favors.
For additional commentary on Pruitt and Wheeler, listen to this recent episode of GTM's newest podcast Political Climate.
Facing an array of ethical questions, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is leaving the Trump administration, telling the president in a letter, "Unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us". He is expected to take the same deregulatory tack as Pruitt. Later, Trump said Pruitt chose to resign because he felt he was a distraction.
Faegre Baker Daniels hired Wheeler from the Senate committee in 2009 and he lobbied on behalf of clients to slash environmental regulations and push for greater federal support for the fossil fuels industry.
The prospect of more EPA rollbacks even after Pruitt is gone is "really, really worrisome to me", he said. "He made swamp creatures blush with his shameless excesses". All tolerated because Trump liked his zealotry.
Representative Gerry Connolly, Democrat from Virginia: "Scott Pruitt's reign of venality is finally over". Pruitt's management of the agency has prompted a series of investigations.
Until now, Trump had stood by Pruitt - a zealous lieutenant who strongly defended his decision to quit the Paris climate accords - praising his work to roll back Obama-era environmental regulations that the president says hinder economic growth. Wheeler lobbied for coal giant Murray Energy, serving as a captain in that company's bitter war against President Obama's efforts to cut global warming emissions and enact more stringent clean air and clean water rules.
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Democrats and environmental groups decried Wheeler as a coal apologist and former top aide to a GOP senator who rejects mainstream climate science.
President Trump has lost another Cabinet member.
"Andrew worked for me for 14 years, has an impeccable reputation and has the experience to be a strong leader at the EPA", Inhofe said.
After leaving Congress, worked for years as a lobbyist for some of the largest coal, chemical and uranium companies in the US - including the uranium mining firm that pushed for the reduction of Bears Ears National Monument, which is near one of its processing facilities. "He is somebody who has been preparing for a position of responsibility like this really for all of his life", says Scott Segal, an attorney who has been working on environmental policy for a quarter-century. Many questioned the ethics of him renting an apartment in Washington, D.C., from the wife of an energy lobbyist and traveling frequently to his home state of Oklahoma on the taxpayers' dime. Speaking at a recent energy policy forum in Washington, Ernst accused Pruitt of lying to her and other senators past year when he pledged to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standards for ethanol.
During congressional testimony in April, Pruitt was unapologetic for the controversies, often blaming his staff for any agency missteps.
Began his career in environmental law at the EPA, as a special assistant in the agency's toxics office during President George H.W. Bush's administration.
'I don't think that whatever things he may be accused of are things that most Oklahomans are going to hold against him if he decides to run for office in the future, ' Worthen said.
He has always been a harsh critic of climate change science.