Sen. Rounds wrong about EPA's Pruitt
Our own Sen. Mike Rounds recently appeared on national TV to defend EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, calling the criticism “nitpicking.” The allegations against Pruitt include unwarranted spending of large sums of agency money on security and first-class travel, taking an entourage to Paris and Morocco to promote Liquified Natural Gas (not part of the EPA’s mission), and unapproved massive salary increases to select staff, one of whom was a no-show for several months while continuing to collect a paycheck. EPA staff that raised concerns about Pruitt’s behavior were demoted or reassigned.
Rounds’ “nitpicking” comment may make more sense if viewed in context of his record while governor. The Gear Up and EB-5 scandals took place in large part on his watch. Because of our state’s lack of transparency, shoddy record-keeping, and seeming reluctance to discomfort the power structure, a full accounting of the actors involved and the total amount of money stolen is unknown.
What is incontrovertible, however, is the two suicides and five murders can be directly attributed to these two events. Viewed from that perspective, concern over the looting and neutering of a major federal regulatory agency may indeed seem “nitpicking.”