Scott Pruitt’s fall from grace offers many learned lessons. Many have asked my thoughts on his resignation. Like many of my friends, I believe his departure was long overdue. Despite a number of laudable themes and goals such as reinforcing the rule of law, cooperative federalism, cutting through bureaucratic inertia, innovating entrepreneurialism, and engendering greater transparency in science and rule-making, his many ethical lapses are disappointing and shocking and simply indefensible.
There are few who could have survived the withering onslaught of daily attacks and scrutiny. On a personal level, it is clear he was either unprepared for the level of animus and hostility that awaited him or he was woefully unprepared for the larger job at hand, or maybe a combination of both. More importantly, however, Pruitt never made the transition from the litigious Oklahoma Attorney General, who rose to office after suing EPA thirteen times, to “being” the U.S. EPA Administrator.
His resignation letter speaks volumes about the man and what he viewed his role to be.
It has been an honor to serve you in the Cabinet as Administrator of the EPA. Truly, your confidence in me has blessed me personally and enabled me to advance your agenda beyond what anyone anticipated at the beginning of your Administration. Your courage, steadfastness and resolute commitment to get results for the American people, both with regard to improved environmental outcomes as well as historical regulatory reform, is in fact occurring at an unprecedented pace and I thank you for the opportunity to serve you and the American people in helping achieve those ends.
That is why it is hard for me to advise you I am stepping down as Administrator of the EPA effective as of July 6. It is extremely difficult for me to cease serving you in this role first because I count it a blessing to be serving you in any capacity, but also, because of the transformative work that is occurring. However, the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us.
My desire in service to you has always been to bless you as you make important decisions for the American people. I believe you are serving as President today because of God’s providence. I believe that same providence brought me into your service. I pray as I have served you that I have blessed you and enabled you to effectively lead the American people. Thank you again Mr. President for the honor of serving you and I wish you Godspeed in all that you put your hand to.
Your Faithful Friend,
As both a Christian and a political conservative, I can’t help but wince at these sentiments. I certainly believe in providence and God’s plan for each of our lives. But what strikes me as a bit odd is the object of his favor seems eerily pointed toward 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue rather than Heaven. No doubt a bitter pill to swallow, but there are many, including myself, who believe Pruitt’s departure is part-and-parcel to that same providence.
Pruitt arrived openly hostile to the Agency, believing to his core that the Agency was a serial offender of bending and exceeding its legal authority. Many had hoped he would bring needed reform to the Agency, but sadly environmental outcomes took a backseat to regulatory reform. Ultimately, he viewed the Agency as an “enemy” to be conquered or defeated, and that’s how the Agency and environmental activists viewed him. In the end, they won, he lost.
Yesterday a friend penned me a note, and put it best,
Regardless of one’s view of environmental regulations, Pruitt’s multiple ethics scandals . . . coupled with his hubris and his attempt to paint himself as the victim in his resignation letter – will be a textbook case on how not to be an ethical public servant or a leader in any venue.
History will not be kind to Scott Pruitt, he will be remembered as one of the Agency’s worst.