WASHINGTON – Facing an array of ethical questions, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is leaving the Trump administration, telling the president in a letter, "Unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us."
Pruitt drew ethics complaints and investigations for:
- Expensive travel – often flying first class;
- Installing a $43,000 phone booth in his office;
- Renting an apartment well below market value from the wife of an energy lobbyist;
- Using his influence to try and secure a Chick-fil-A franchise for his wife.
"My wife is an entrepreneur herself. I love, she loves, we love Chick-fil-A as a franchise of faith and it's one of the best in the country," Pruitt explained in an interview.
President Donald Trump praised him until the end, tweeting, "Within the Agency, Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this."
In Pruitt's place, the president is appointing EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler, who is poised to pick up where Pruitt left off.
He's a former coal industry lobbyist who fought government regulations. Before that he worked on Capitol Hill and, like Pruitt, he's a target for liberals who see him as a champion of polluters and climate change deniers.
Even without a blemish, Pruitt had a target on his back from the start because he threatened the liberal religion of environmentalism.
In fact, he insisted he needed extra privacy on flights because he was confronted angrily in public – like a recent confrontation at a Washington, DC restaurant where a woman holding a baby confronts him and appears to read off notes as if the meeting was planned.
"I would urge you to resign before your scandals push you out," the woman concludes her rant.
Despite his short tenure, Pruitt is leaving a big mark.
He was a major player in the president's decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord, he ended President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan and aggressively cut government red tape.
In an interview with CBN News this spring, Pruitt explained his motivation.
"There's never been more of a threat to liberty, you know, to what we know as the protections that are inherent in our Constitution than what we live today," Pruitt told CBN's Chief Political Correspondent David Brody.
As an evangelical Christian, Pruitt approached his job from a biblical worldview.
In his resignation letter to the president, he writes, "I believe you are serving as president today because of God's providence. I believe that same providence brought me into your service."
Wheeler takes over the agency on Monday.