The Pruitt problem

Weeks before the Republican National Convention in July 2016, The New York Times reported Donald Trump had interviewed Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst as a possible presidential running mate.

Ernst, an Iraq War veteran and retired National Guard lieutenant colonel, “could help Mr. Trump given his lack of foreign policy experience or national security experience,” the Times’ Maggie Haberman reported. “The fact that she is a woman could also help Mr. Trump with a group of voters with whom he currently polls poorly.”

At the time, Ernst said she was focused on electing Trump as president. Today, she has a new target: the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt.

“He is about as swampy as as you get here in Washington, D.C.,” Ernst told attendees of the Platts Energy Podium in Washington Tuesday, “and if the president wants to drain the swamp, he needs to take a look at his own Cabinet.”

Pruitt, a former Oklahoma attorney general, hasbeen under scrutiny since taking over the EPA. At least 10 federal investigations are looking into what Ernst and others in Washington believe to be his ethical lapses.

Pruitt is accused of spending at least $105,000 on first-class flights; millions of dollars on a 20-person security detail and $43,000 on a soundproof booth in his office for making phone calls, just to name a few.

In a tweet in April, President Trump poo-pooed Pruitt’s potential scandals, saying Pruitt’s $3 million security detail was needed due to “death threats” and his travel expenditures are “OK.”

“Scott’s doing a great job!” the tweet ended.

Ernst disagrees. Besides accusations of misuse of office, she says the EPA administrator lied to senators in 2017 when he said he would uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard, and is reneging on the president’s promise to farmers that he would support the corn-fed ethanol industry.

“President Trump committed to a 15 billion gallon annual volume obligation for ethanol under the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Republican Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley said. “Administrator Pruitt is breaking that commitment.”

Tuesday, The New York Times reported Pruitt tasked a staffer with setting up a meeting with the CEO of Chick-fil-A about a fast-food franchise for his wife — yet another ethical investigation in the making.

Sen. Joni Ernst is right. It’s time for Pruitt to go.