Yesterday, Fox News sat down for an interview with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt—and the resulting segment was not pretty. Here are some highlights:
- Pruitt refused to take responsibility for his unethical dealings or his shocking decision to defy the White House by giving two of his favored political appointees more than $80 thousand in raises. Pruitt even denied knowledge of the pay raises and attempted to throw EPA staff under the bus for following his orders. When interviewer Ed Henry pointed out that the median income in the U.S. is $57,000, Pruitt was surprised and unable to justify this misuse of taxpayer dollars.
- Pruitt also tried to defend his sweetheart deal with a dirty energy lobbyist and longtime campaign donor to live in a luxury condo in D.C. for $50 a night – a quarter of the market value. Pruitt justified the cut-rate condo kickback by saying it was approved by EPA ethics lawyers. But the interviewer rightfully pointed out the ethics review didn’t happen until a year after Pruitt signed the lease and was not cleared beforehand.
- The Fox News interview also revived a previous scandal in which Pruitt appointed his personal friend and former banker with no environmental management experience, Albert Kelly, to lead a task force on clean-up of toxic Superfund sites. The catch? Two weeks prior to being picked, Kelly had been banned from the banking industry for life—calling into question his ability to manage anything with the word “fund” in the name.
This latest interview highlights how Pruitt is embroiled in scandal, spending his time and taxpayer dollars on giving his friends raises and bending to the whims of industry while neglecting his responsibilities to protect the environment and our health. It’s time for him to go—if you agree, add your name here to #BootPruitt.
ACTION OF THE DAY
Town Hall Project. This week, there are several town halls happening around the country, from Representative Carlos Curbelo in Florida and to Representative Elise Stefanik in New York. To organize your own town hall, check out this helpful guide. Then, check out ResistanceNearMe.org to find out about town halls and other events happening near you!
Saheed Vassell. Last night, police in Brooklyn fatally shot Saheed Vassell, an unarmed black man who had a history of mental illness. (Half of people killed by police have a disability.) The shooting sparked protests across New York City, as people demanded answers from the police. Less than one week ago, we highlighted the fatal shooting of Stephon Clark and Danny Ray Thomas and the importance of addressing the intersection of race and policing. Young black males are 21 times more likely to be shot by a law enforcement officer than their white counterparts. Now, Vashell’s death marks the ninth police shooting of an unarmed man in 2018 alone. Police departments must confront this issue head on and reexamine their use-of-force policies and training and hold officers accountable for their actions. Unfortunately, any police reform efforts will not have the support of the Sessions’ Justice Department, which has curtailed federal oversight of police departments exhibiting patterns of unconstitutional practices and stopped supporting local police accountability efforts.
Racist Legacy in Disaster Relief. A new report from CAP’s Progress 2050 highlights the sordid legacy of racism in disaster relief in America. Hurricane Maria is a prime example of this. From the beginning, President Trump downplayed the disaster caused by Maria. He threw paper towels at survivors and made no real effort to fix the $100B in damage or help the families of the estimated 1,000 people who lost their lives. Congress appropriated a $23B in direct aid, and the Trump administration has only spent a fraction of it. As a result, 1 in 10 Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands remain without power—and thousands still await permanent access to clean water and housing. Maria, Harvey, Sandy, Katrina, Flint, and Standing Rock are all connected – too often, lawmakers place savings and corporate profits over the health and wellbeing of residents of color. Instead of using dog-whistles about how Katrina survivors are “a bunch of whiners” or how Puerto Ricans “want everything done for them,” lawmakers must promote equity and provide long-term aid to disaster-affected regions.
UNDER THE RADAR
Discrepancies in College Spending. A new analysis by the Center for American Progress looking at spending at public two- and four-year colleges shows that the amount spent per student of color is over $1,000 less than what is spent on their white counterparts. Nationally, as a result of these spending gaps, public colleges spend approximately $5 billion less educating students of color in one year than they do educating white students. These spending gaps are a function of two key factors. The first is discrepancies in the way public colleges are funded whereby fewer resources are allocated to community or less selective colleges. Second, due to the inequitable system of access to higher education, students of color are more likely to be funneled into those same institutions with fewer resources.