The video below makes it clear that EPA head Scott Pruitt has learned from his boss how to defend himself when people call him out for breaking laws and wasting extravagant sums of taxpayer money — make no apology, make no sense, attack the accusers, and hide behind religion and patriotism.
Here's Pruitt's response after reporter Jessica Smith asked him about the revelation that he ordered one of his staffers to set up a meeting with the head of Chick-fil-A with the intention of securing a franchise for his wife:
"With great change comes, you know, I think, opposition. I mean, there's significant change that's happening across — not only at the EPA but across this administration, and it's needed. Look, my wife is an entrepreneur herself. I love, she loves, we love — Chick-fil-A is a franchise of faith, and it's one of the best in the country, and so that's something we were very excited about. So — we need more of them in Tulsa, and we need more of them across the country."
No matter what Pruitt is saying here, his actions were in violation of at least two federal laws:
Federal ethics laws bar public officials from using their position or staff for private gain. A Cabinet-level official using his perch to contact a company CEO about a job for his wife "raises the specter of misuse of public office," said Don Fox, who was head of the federal Office of Government Ethics during the Obama administration. "It's not much different [from] if he [had] asked the aide to facilitate getting a franchise for himself."
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, Fox said. "It is a misuse of the aide's time to ask the aide to do something like this that is really for personal financial benefit."
I asked Scott Pruitt a quick question about the reports he tried to help his wife become a Chick-fil-A franchisee.
"With great change comes, I think, opposition…I love, she loves [Chick-fil-A]" pic.twitter.com/gND2tdMq1e
— Jessica Smith (@JessicaASmith8) June 6, 2018