Culture of corruption
EPA's Scott Pruitt is gone, but Chris Lu argues that the Trump administration's defiance of ethics norms remains
[Read the full article at CNBC.com]
For the past year, the survival instincts of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt have been a constant source of amazement in Washington. Despite an almost daily series of disclosures, Pruitt managed to hold onto his job and even seemed to gain more trust from Donald Trump.
Indeed, just three weeks ago, Pruitt confidently tweeted a photo of himself sitting behind the president’s desk in the Oval Office.
For those of us who followed the daily revelations of Pruitt’s improprieties, there was always a mix of outrage and black humor.
After all, who has the gall to send his staff to find hand lotion from a Ritz-Carlton hotel or a used mattress from the Trump Hotel? Who is brazen enough to request sports tickets from people whose businesses are regulated by the EPA? Who is paranoid enough to demand first-class airline travel and a soundproof booth in his office? And who openly flouts federal ethics rules by seeking a sweetheart apartment deal and potential jobs for his wife?
And those of who have served in previous administrations watched with shock at how Pruitt defied virtually every ethics rule or longstanding norm that regulates the conduct of government officials. Indeed, two of Pruitt’s cabinet colleagues—Tom Price and David Shulkin—were pushed out of their jobs for far less egregious misconduct.
When it was reported earlier this week that Pruitt had reached a “tipping point,” it appeared to be just another false alarm. Yet, this time, something felt different.