May 25, 2018

Deroy Murdock commentary: EPA's Pruitt is far cleaner than critics claim

Paul Driessen

US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has been subjected to unceasing barrages of criticism – for having "unnecessary” security, getting a "below market rate” Washington, DC "apartment” to sleep in when he is in Washington, and other alleged offenses. In this article, journalist and commentator Deroy Murdock demolishes these politicized assertions, noting that repeated threats to Pruitt and his family make the security more than justified, and that the "apartment” was merely a single bedroom that Pruitt rented for the going rate for that area.

Of course, the real reason Mr. Pruitt is under scrutiny and attack is that he challenges claims that humanity and planet are threatened by imminent manmade climate change disasters, and that he has overturned Obama era EPA rules that had little or no foundation in scientific data and evidence.

His security, DC bedroom and policies are legitimate and defensible, under any fair standard

Deroy Murdock

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been hounded lately by allegations of rich spending and poor judgment. While he could have detonated himself during recent congressional-oversight hearings, the former Oklahoma prosecutor seems to have survived those tests. Nonetheless, EPA’s inspector general, the Government Accountability Office, and various congressional panelscontinue to probePruitt’s official conduct. While Pruitt has plenty for which to answer, on at least three key counts, he seems to be cleaner than his critics claim.

Pruitt’s foes have attacked him for allocating too muchon bodyguards. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) slammed Pruitt for "taking 30 EPA enforcement officers away from investigating polluters to serve as his round-the-clock personal security detail.” The Associate Press counts 20, not 30,in Pruitt’s full-time protective detail. Its cost, AP reports, "approached $3 million when pay is added in travel expenses.”

But an August 16 EPA report suggests thatPruitt’s personal-defenseoutlays are fueledby genuine safety concerns rather than self-aggrandizement.This document cites14threatsagainst Pruitt and his family in Fiscal Year 2017. Among them:

* Pruitt’s daughter has been menaced viaFacebook. e.g.,"I hope your father dies soon, suffering as your mother watches in horror for hours on end.”

* An e-mail sent to the Washington, D.C. office of Senator James Lankford (R - Oklahoma)threatenedto assassinate Pruitt, President Trump, and Vice President Pence.

* One message to EPA said, "I hope your head administrator (Scott Pruitt), dies a very painful and horrible death through poisoning. Please explain the scientific method to this freaking neanderthal [sic].”

* Another spooky character statedvia Twitter, "Pruitt, I am gonna find you and put a bullet between your eyes. Don’t even think I’m joking. I’m planning this.”

*A postcard sent to Pruitt read, "Get out while you still can, Scott, you are evil incarnate you ignorant fuck.”

*"Dear Mr. Pruitt,” another postcard began. "CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL!! We are watching you. For the sake of our planet, our children & our grandchildren, will you be a reasonable man? I repeat, we are watching you! Myrna, Michele, Chris, Signe, Lucy, Olivia and Isabel.”

* Atrespasser entered EPA headquarters on March 6, CBS News reported. He claimed to be a student attending a "Microsoft event,” said EPA Assistant Inspector General Patrick Sullivan."The personasked about Scott Pruitt and wanted to know where Pruitt’s office was and if Pruitt ever walked in the hallway outside the room.” Although the intruder was escorted off the premises, he later phonedan employee’s office numberand left voicemails in which he said, as Sullivan explained, "he can gain entry into EPA spaceanytime he wants.”

* Not content simply to write, one critic showed up in person. An EPA sentry stopped him. "During the confrontation, the subject was able to acquire the security officer’s duty weapon and discharge a round into a nearby chair.” The guard disarmed the visitor, who later was indicted for assaulting a federal officer/employee.

These and other concrete provocationsjustify Pruitt’s focus on security. TheLeft’s hatred of President Donald J. Trump and his supporters, including Pruitt, is incandescent. One cannotfault Pruitt’scaution, especially after James T. Hodgkinson, a Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer,shot and nearly killedRep.Steve Scalise (R - Louisiana) and fourothers at the GOP congressional baseball team’s practice last June in Alexandria, Virginia.

Just a few days ago, Miami-Dade Police arrestedJonathan Oddi.Officers say they nabbed Oddi after he fired gunshots in the lobby of the Trump National Doral, one of the chief executive’s golf resorts. Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez said Oddi shouted "anti-Trump, President Trump rhetoric.”

A similar attack that maimed or killed Pruitt – and perhaps EPA personnel and innocent bystanders – is hardly fanciful. Such a scenario is worth devotingresources to prevent.

Also under review: Pruitt’s 2017 housing arrangements in Washington, DC.Pruitt’s accusers claim he got a special, below-cost deal in somesort of bed-for-bribe swap. Had Pruitt been billetedfor pennies in a Georgetown townhouse or an Embassy Row mansion, these worries would be legitimate. However, Pruittrented a room in a Capitol Hill condominium and paidonly for the evenings whenhe actually slept there. He shelled out $50 per night, equal to $1,500 per month. According to Pruitt’s lease,"Enjoyment is limited to one bedroom that cannot be locked. All other space is controlled by the landlord.”

In an April 4 EPAmemorandum, Designated Agency Ethics OfficialKevin S. Minoli stated that "within a six-block radius” of Pruitt’s crash pad, there were "seven (7) private bedrooms that could be rented for $55 or less/day.” Minoli, who also is EPA’s principal deputy general counsel, also found 38 such rooms "across a broader section of Capitol Hill.” As a result of itsresearch, Minoli explained, "the ethics office estimated $50/day to be a reasonable market value of the use authorized by the terms of the lease. As such, the use of the property according to the terms of the lease would not constitute a gift under the Federal ethics regulations.”

No gift, no graft.

Some also have fretted about the fact that this property is owned by energylobbyist Steven Hart and his wife Vicki.Pruitt told theWashington Examinerthat they were old friends from Oklahoma. "I’ve known him for years,” Pruitt said. "He’s the outside counsel for the National Rifle Association, has no clients that are before this agency, nor does his wife have any clients that have appeared before this agency.”

Pruitt reportedly requested and was given multiple extensions on his lease until last summer. Having overstayed his welcome, the Harts eventually asked Pruitt to make way for an incoming renter. The Harts changed the locks behind Pruitt. If this couple wanted to curry special favor with the EPA chief, this seems like a rather fruitless strategy.

It’s no surprise that these and other actions by Pruitt are under a microscope.For many on the Left, battling so-called "global warming” borders on religion. As they see it, the science is "settled,” this creed is beyond debate, and the heretics who question this faith should bejailed, as Bill Nye the Science Guy has suggested, orexecuted, as University of Graz, Austria Professor Richard Parncutt has proposed.

Someone like Pruitt, who rejects manmade-global-warmist alarmism and is powerful enough to implement his ideas (e.g. persuading President Trump tojunk Obama’s Clean Power Plan and withdraw America from the Paris Climate Treaty) embodies the Left’s worst nightmares. Tothe warmists, Pruitt is a torch-bearing arsonist, scurrying maliciously throughtheir Vatican. And he must be stopped.

Even if Pruitt winds up scot-free, his situation should serve as a cautionary tale for every member of Team Trump – from the president on down: Their margin of error is thinner than Saran Wrap. President Trump and all who work for him should act as if their every action and utterance were being broadcast live on MSNBC, with Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough offering scathing, bitter and unforgiving commentary. No one on Team Trumpever will get the benefit of the doubt. When the First Lady gets slammed, even for unveiling an anti-cyberbullying initiative, it is safe to assume that everyone in thisadministration will be scrutinized with the deepestsuspicions.

As much as these actions byScottPruittcan be defended, these daysrequire an even higher level of purity. It may be as physically unobtainable as 250-proof alcohol. Regardless, and unfair as it may be,thismust be the ideal to which every member of the Trump Administration, the RepublicanCongress, and pretty much each American conservativemust aspire.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News Contributor. This article originally appeared onTownhall.com.

 

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