If you ever get bored during the work week and are looking for some good scandal news out of Washington, all you really need to do is open up your favorite news search engine and type in the name of EPA administrator Scott Pruitt. Odds are that no matter how crowded the news cycle may be with other pressing matters around the world, somebody on the Washington beat will have mysteriously discovered a new instance of supposed wrongdoing on Pruitt’s part.
This weekend was no different, with the Washington Post publishing yet another shocking revolution from Pruitt’s time heading the EPA. What was it this time? Another cafeteria worker saying that he ate at their facilities too often? A request to purchase another used mattress? No… this story is far more dark and sinister. Having gotten hold of even more of the Secretary’s private correspondence, the WaPo discovered that someone who knows Pruitt had made an inquiry about possibly landing a job at the agency for one of their friends.
The lobbyist whose wife rented Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt a room in a Capitol Hill condo at a discounted rate lobbied Pruitt’s chief of staff to hire a family friend, according to recently released agency emails.
The exchange is among several previously undisclosed interactions that show how J. Steven Hart, who served as chairman of the law firm Williams & Jensen until earlier this year, sought to exert influence over decisions at the agency even as his spouse was renting Pruitt a $50-a-night room in an upscale condo blocks from the Capitol. The communications, released as part of a public records lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy group, also appear to undermine initial arguments that Hart had not lobbied the EPA during Pruitt’s tenure.
The emails show that both Hart and his wife, Vicki — who rented Pruitt the condo under an agreement that he pay only for the nights that he stayed there — pushed for the EPA to hire Jimmy Guilliano, a recent college graduate.
Ah, yes It’s the Harts again. The people who allowed the “scandal plagued” EPA administrator to get “too good of a deal” on a rental room when he first moved to Washington. And in their efforts to find some thread, however tenuous, showing that they must have lobbied Pruitt to get something in exchange, it was discovered that Pruitt’s old friends from Oklahoma had asked about an EPA job for a recent college graduate they knew.
Here’s the kicker, in case you hadn’t guessed already. The guy was never offered a job. So the sin here is apparently that they had the nerve to ask and somebody at the EPA read the email.
A spokesperson at the EPA provided the big question and official answer regarding this subject:
Did Mr. Pruitt in fact tell Ms. Hart that she could talk to Mr. Jackson about finding Mr. Guiliano a job at EPA? What happened? Did Mr. Jackson meet with Mr. Guiliano? Did Mr.Jackson assist Mr. Guiliano in finding an EPA position? Was Mr. Guiliano hired?
“The Agency accepts career recommendations from a number of acquaintances. Ultimately, Mr. Guiliano was not hired.”
There you have it. The Scott Pruitt Scandal of the Week, courtesy of the Washington Post. A friend of the family inquired about a possible job for a kid they knew and he wasn’t hired. In reality, people at every level of the government are peppered with questions like this all the time and it happens during every administration. In some rare cases, a well-qualified applicant might use a connection such as that as a foot in the door and land a job. In more dubious cases, totally unqualified people have been hired through cronyism. When you find a situation such as that it’s definitely worth calling out. But simply for asking?
If you went through the private correspondence of every single member of the Obama administration I can assure you that a significant majority of them fielded such requests at one time or another. I wouldn’t be terribly shocked if a few of them actually landed jobs. But, of course, nobody was asking during the Obama administration. Because nobody wanted to upset the apple cart. But since Trump came to town, any time the press can collect a scalp from one of his appointees it eases some of the disappointment they feel from not being able to get the President himself to resign.