Pruitt Goes on Brown Nose Offensive, Amid Uproar over Ethics Scandals

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt

Curbelo is up just five points over likely Democratic challenger Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, according to a survey the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released this week.

In a statement to the Post, an EPA spokesperson defended the administrator and the agency.

The scrutiny began months ago - the EPA Office of Inspector General started investigating Administrator Scott Pruitt's travel expenses in August 2017, after reports that he spent thousands of dollars on first-class plane tickets and a 24/7 security detail.

ABC News and Bloomberg News reported last week that in his first six months in Washington a year ago, Pruitt made a deal to pay about $50 a night - less than a third the price of similar properties - to rent a room in a Capitol Hill neighborhood condo building co-owned by energy industry lobbyist Steven Hart and his wife. Pruitt paid $50 per night, a sweetheart deal well below the market rate for an upscale Capitol Hill townhouse.

In early March, reports The Atlantic, Pruitt sought substantial pay raises for two young EPA staffers he had brought to Washington from the Oklahoma attorney general's office. The inquiry, which was described more as a review of the situation than a formal inquest, is meant to determine if there were any ethics issues or wrongdoing.

"Those standards are inappropriate and should be revised", Pruitt said at the EPA.

"As EPA career ethics officials stated in a memo, Administrator Pruitt's housing arrangement for both himself and family was not a gift and the lease was consistent with federal ethics regulations", the statement said.

More members of Congress on Tuesday called on the EPA's inspector general to look into the arrangement.

Meanwhile, two Republicans representing left-leaning South Florida districts, Reps.

"It is very right for us to be here to recognize that what was done in 2011 and 2012, as we evaluate now, is not appropriate going forward and we're going to get it right", Pruitt said.

"I don't know how you survive this one", former New Jersey governor and ABC News contributor Chris Christie told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on This Week Sunday.

The president reportedly told Mr Pruitt to "keep his head up" and to "keep fighting", according to USA media reports. (It seems he's clung on this long in part because he's done such a good job gutting Obama-era regulations.) And if the Times headline wasn't enough to spur Kelly to action, The Washington Post reported on Monday that Pruitt's staff explored the idea of leasing a private jet to accommodate his "travel needs" (the idea was scrapped after estimates came in at roughly $100,000 a month), while The Atlantic revealed that Pruitt himself bypassed the White House to give two of his closest aides huge raises a year ago.

Automakers commended and acclaimed Scott Pruitt's finding. Pruitt said in a statement Monday that the agency will work with all states, including California, to finalize new standards. Sydney Hupp spent four months previous year as an "executive scheduler" for Pruitt, according to her LinkedIn profile. Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, two vulnerable Democrats who are up for re-election this year in states Trump won in 2016, joined almost every Republican in voting to approve Pruitt's nomination.

After the White House rejected their request, Pruitt's team studied the particulars of the Safe Drinking Water provision, according to the source with direct knowledge of these events.

This article has been updated with comment from the EPA and Ros-Lehtinen.

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