Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
It seems like every single day brings a new story about how corrupt Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt is. And if Tuesday’s story isn’t quite as weird as Monday’s story about Pruitt having an aide try to buy a used mattress from a Trump hotel, that’s only because that mattress story was really f’ing weird. The latest is that Pruitt used an aide—the sister of the mattress aide—to try to hook his wife up with a Chick-fil-A franchise.
It seems that Pruitt is feeling pretty broke now that he no longer has his $50-a-night room in a lobbyist-owned apartment and he’s paying actual rent in Washington, D.C., as well as a mortgage in Tulsa, Oklahoma. So he tried to use his position to get his wife a job, and he used federal employees to use his position for that purpose:
Three months after Scott Pruitt was sworn in as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, his executive scheduler emailed Dan Cathy, chairman and president of the fast food company Chick-fil-A, with an unusual request: Would Cathy meet with Pruitt to discuss “a potential business opportunity”?
A call was arranged, then canceled, and Pruitt eventually spoke with someone from the company’s legal department. Only then did he reveal the “opportunity” on his mind was a job for his wife, Marlyn.
“The subject of that phone call was an expression of interest in his wife becoming a Chick-fil-A franchisee,” company representative Carrie Kurlander told The Washington Post via email.
Though his Chick-fil-A effort failed, Pruitt did get his wife $2,000 plus travel expenses for three days of work with New York nonprofit Concordia. After Scott Pruitt asked Concordia’s CEO to give her a call, Marlyn Pruitt did that three days of work organizing a conference at which her husband spoke. Marlyn’s travel expenses were paid by Concordia. Scott’s $1,200 first-class plane ticket and $669 hotel room were paid by the federal government.
How does this rack up on the corruption scale?
The Washington Post reports that “Federal ethics laws bar public officials from using their position or staff for private gain” and “Asking a government scheduler, Sydney Hupp, to plan the meeting also marks a violation of federal rules barring officials from asking subordinates to perform personal tasks.” Maybe that’s just everyday behavior in the Trump administration, but it’s also a potent reminder that Trump’s people aren’t looking to run the country for the good of the country. Instead, they’re looking to vacuum up whatever personal benefit they can.
Laura Clawson is the Labor editor at Daily Kos Labor, and a contributing editor at Daily Kos.