Last week, an environmentalist watchdog organization revealed a truly stunning development involving Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt: He visits his family on the weekends! While the green group attacked Pruitt’s use of taxpayer money, his hometown paper delivered a powerful response.
“The Trump administration is seeking to cut EPA’s budget by 31%, putting Americans’ health and safety at risk,” declared Austin Evers, executive director at American Oversight and a former lawyer for President Barack Obama’s State Department. “At the same time, Pruitt is spending scarce taxpayer dollars to fuel his personal ambition for higher office.”
Expense reports from March, April, and May showed Pruitt traveling home at least 10 times, leaving Washington on Fridays and returning on Mondays. These trips cost the government $15,000. A Pruitt spokeswoman said the group inaccurately calculated the EPA director’s travel days on Friday and Monday as days missed from work.
Pruitt himself denounced such green groups as “an alt-EPA.”
But his own hometown paper powerfully shot down the criticisms. “A fishing expedition request for Pruitt’s EPA expense accounts by an environmentalist advocacy group pretty much discovered” that Pruitt was returning home to his family (SHOCKER!) and “that he was spending some public money along the way and met with people that the advocates didn’t approve of,” wrote the Tulsa World‘s editorial board.
During his trips home, Pruitt stopped at the Brainerd Chemical Company in Tulsa and gave a speech to the Heritage Foundation in Colorado.
“As outrages go, it’s not worth much,” the editorial board declared. “The Washington press corps and the environmental lobby might prefer that the EPA boss be held captive on the East Coast and that he hear nothing but the opinions of ‘green’ lobbyists, but the people out in fly-over country like it when we’re being heard, too.”
“We prefer it when the people at the top of the nation’s bureaucratic pyramid get out of the Beltway once in a while to talk to ordinary Americans,” the World‘s editorial writers added. “If Pruitt is coming home to see his friends, family, neighbors and some of the people he regulates, then good for him. That sounds like the acts of a balanced man who wants to know the thinking of the public, not just the pro-regulation lobbyists.”
The World article ended on a powerful note. “It’s apparent to us, and we suspect to Pruitt, that environmental extremists are determined to find anything they can use against him, including this not-so-damning evidence that he hasn’t abandoned his family.”
Furthermore, while Pruitt’s predecessor Gina McCarthy might not have traveled back to the heartland (her family was in Boston, after all) on weekends, it is a common practice among members of Congress. Representatives travel home on weekends, not just to visit family, but to interact with the people they represent.
Perhaps federal administrators — who are effectively making law, which Article 1 of the Constitution expressly said is only a power of Congress — should also see the people they govern.
The green lobby has indeed become a kind of alt-EPA, pushing for regulations from outside the government. But the federal government should ostensibly represent all people, not just those who want harsh environmental policies.