An AP wire story today via the Denver Post saddles EPA henhouse guard fox administrator Scott Pruitt with another alleged improper use of taxpayer funds in Colorado–this time Pruitt’s visit to our state to film a video urging opposition to the previous administration’s much-vilified Clean Water Rule:
Pruitt flew to Colorado for an August event organized by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, an industry trade association representing cattle producers. While at the ranch, Pruitt recorded a video urging the group’s members to file comments supporting the repeal of EPA’s Waters of the United States rule.
The 2015 rule seeks to expand the agency’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act to include smaller streams and wetlands.
In a letter sent last week, the top Democrats on four committees with oversight of EPA asked the head of the Government Accountability Office to issue a formal legal ruling on whether Pruitt’s participation in the video violated federal rules.
They cited longstanding prohibitions against federal officials using taxpayer funds “for publicity or propaganda purposes, and for the preparation, distribution or use of any kit, pamphlet, booklet, publication, radio, television, or film presentation designed to support or defeat legislation pending before the Congress.”
This issue does involve the existing controversy over Pruitt’s costly and questionable travel arrangements, which includes a chartered private flight from Denver to Durango earlier this year that Colorado officials say could have been avoided if Pruitt had taken their offer of a ride with Gov. John Hickenlooper. This latest scandal adds the impropriety of expensive travel to Colorado to an improper purpose: attacking the Clean Water Rule on behalf of an industry lobbying group.
In short, it’s definitely a problem, and Pruitt could find himself sharing the fate of ousted HHS Secretary Tom Price if the bad headlines for the administration continue. And yes, the Clean Water Rule angle makes the “drain the swamp” humor over Pruitt’s spendthrift use of taxpayer dollars that much more biting.
Administrator, drain thyself. Preferably not into the waters of the United States.