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Pruitt's EPA resignation stirs lament, reflection
07 July 2018, 04:43 | Erica Roy
Trump’s most homophobic Cabinet member just got shown the door
Andrew Wheeler, seated on the far right, attended a March 2017 meeting between Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray about promoting policies to benefit the finances of the coal industry.
Pruitt's reputation as a dogged deregulator and outspoken booster of the president allowed him to weather a litany of ethics scandals in recent months, including questions about taxpayer-funded first-class travel, a discounted condo rental from a Washington lobbyist and the installation of a $43,000 soundproof phone booth in his office.
On Friday, his final day in office, Pruitt was back at the EPA building in downtown Washington to say goodbye to aides.
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Trump signaled Thursday afternoon that it wasn't Pruitt's anti-environment views that led to his demise.
The explanation for Mr. Pruitt's curious longevity in office, seemingly impervious to widespread media coverage of his ethical lapses, could be seen in an over-the-top resignation letter in which he described Mr. Trump's presidency as nothing short of "God's providence".
"The unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us".
It was not immediately clear how Pruitt's resignation might affect those ongoing probes.
The departure follows years worth of constant scandal and public outrage for Pruitt's constant profligate spending and insider dealing.
The Democrats' political guns are now aiming at Pruitt's replacement, acting administrator Andrew Wheeler, a "coal lobbyist who has slammed climate science" but also "trashed Trump in a 2016 Facebookpost", per Coral Davenport of the New York Times. Pruitt, who gave every appearance of being in the pocket of industry, spent large portions of his time denying the existence of climate change. That plan ultimately became the framework of a proposal by Perry to bail out struggling coal and nuclear power plants (Wheeler was also a nuclear industry lobbyist).
Although Pruitt has always been known for his high-profile appearances dating back to his successful run for Oklahoma attorney general, reports paint Wheeler as a quieter political actor.
"I believe man has an impact on the climate, but what is not completely understood is what the impact is", Wheeler responded.
But despite boasts of slashing red tape and promoting job creation, Pruitt had a mixed record of producing real-world results. That quest included setting up a call with Chick-fil-A executives, in which he discussed her becoming a franchisee, as well as outreach to a conservative judicial group that eventually hired Marlyn Pruitt.
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