- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 8, 2018

Several Republican senators on Sunday voiced concern about the recent conduct of embattled Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who is fighting to hold onto his job amid a series of reports of exorbitant security and travel spending.

Sen. John Kennedy, Louisiana Republican, advised Mr. Pruitt to stop “stop leading with your chin” and said Mr. Pruitt needs to cut out “stupid” “unforced errors” amid the recently reported ethical lapses.

“I would say ethics matter, impropriety matters, the appearance of impropriety matters,” Mr. Kennedy, Louisiana Republican, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“To the extent that you are, stop acting like a chucklehead, stop the unforced error[s], stop leading with your chin,” he said.

“If you don’t need to fly first class, don’t. Don’t turn on the siren on your SUV just to watch people move over. You represent the president of the United States,” Mr. Kennedy said, calling Mr. Pruitt’s reported recent behavior a “juvenile” distraction.

Mr. Pruitt is under fire amid recent reports on his travel and security spending and a $50-per-night Capitol Hill condominium he rented from the wife of an energy lobbyist — who reportedly changed the locks on him after trying to push him out.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said he likes Mr. Pruitt and that he’s done a good job as EPA administrator, but that the $50-a-night deal sounded too good to be true.

“The one thing I can say, if you’re the EPA administrator, and two lobbyists change the locks, you’ve got a problem,” Mr. Graham said on ABC’s “This Week.” “The bottom line — this doesn’t look good.”

President Trump voiced some support for Mr. Pruitt over the weekend, saying he’s doing a “great job,” that the rent was “about market rate,” and that travel expenses were “OK.”

“While Security spending was somewhat more than his predecessor, Scott Pruitt has received death threats because of his bold actions at EPA,” the president said on Twitter. “Record clean Air & Water while saving USA Billions of Dollars.”

On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Mr. Pruitt has done a “fantastic” job on policy but declined to weigh in on the alleged ethical lapses.

“I haven’t had any direct conversations with the president on this,” Mr. Mnuchin said on CBS. “I have obviously had a lot of discussions with him on trade and the economy, but I know he’s very supportive of Scott Pruitt’s positions and what he’s done there.”

But Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who opposed Mr. Pruitt’s nomination, said on policy grounds alone he’s the wrong person to lead the EPA.

“This daily drip of accusations of excessive spending and ethical violations serve to further distract the agency from accomplishing its very important mission,” she said.

“I think Congress needs to do some oversight,” she said. “After all, we don’t know the extent of the recommendations made by Mr. Pruitt’s security team.”

Rep. Trey Gowdy, who chairs the House oversight committee, is reportedly looking into Mr. Pruitt’s actions.

“I don’t have a lot patience for that kind of stuff,” the South Carolina Republican said recently in a video posted by Friends of the Earth, an environmental activist group.

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