Will this be last straw for Pruitt?
It's time for an update on Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.
In April, we editorialized that it's time for Pruitt to be fired, giving numerous examples of malfeasance since he took his cabinet position under President Trump. Among the issues we cited then was the one most obvious to the Herald—that reporters from this newspaper were harangued by police at the insistence of Pruitt staffers during a meeting at UND with North Dakota elected leaders. We knew it was wrong at the time, but it took UND and others some time to recognize it; an apology came, the officers involved were mentored and the Herald won an award for its reporting on the incident.
Among other issues we discussed in April were suspicions that centered around Pruitt's ethics and misuse of public dollars, including a cozy relationship with a Washington lobbyist that led to super-cheap rent at the lobbyist's condo; building a $43,000 "secure phone booth" in his office; 70 percent pay raises to at least two top aides; expensive travel habits that include first-class and non-commercial air travel; millions of dollars spent on a security detail that follows him even on family trips; and travel decisions allegedly based on destinations Pruitt wished to visit instead of for official business.
Of course, that's all old news. Here are some updates from just the past week:
■ According to The Washington Post, Pruitt's office ordered a dozen customized fountain pens (emblazoned with Pruitt's signature and the EPA seal) and a stack of personal journals at a cost of $3,230.
■ Investigators are looking into claims that Pruitt used subordinates to do all sorts of personal tasks, which is against federal rules. For example, he allegedly had an assistant search to buy a discounted mattress from the Trump International Hotel, search for apartments and arrange vacations so Pruitt and his family could see a football game.
■ Tuesday, the Post reported that soon after Pruitt came to the EPA, he had his executive scheduler email the chairman of the restaurant chain Chick-fil-A, seeking a meeting for a "potential business opportunity." The opportunity? Pruitt wanted his wife to become a Chick-fil-A franchisee, according to the restaurant chain. If true, it shows Pruitt tried to use his position to try to land his wife a restaurant franchise. It also is another case of Pruitt inappropriately using his government staff for personal tasks.
■ And also Tuesday, a story from the Bloomberg news service quoted Sen. Joni Ernst as saying Pruitt is "about as swampy as you get here in Washington, D.C."
"If the president wants to drain the swamp, he needs to look at his own cabinet," Ernst, of Iowa, said of Pruitt.
Ernst said Pruitt is breaking the president's promises to farmers, and specifically regarding Pruitt's handling of the American biofuel mandate. The president supports ethanol, Ernst says, and Pruitt is undermining that support. Sen. Chuck Grassley, also from Iowa, said Pruitt "has betrayed the president."
These are Republican senators saying Pruitt betrayed the president.
Of all of these accusations and claims, that should be the final straw.