President Trump has lost another Cabinet member.
After less than 18 scandal-filled months in office, Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, resigned Thursday. Pruitt is the seventh person to leave a Cabinet-level post in the Trump administration.1 Trump designated 24 Cabinet-level offices, and no president in the last 40 years has had as much turnover in those positions as quickly as Trump has.2
Pruitt’s tenure at the EPA was rocky from the start. He came under fire for using a military plane and private jets instead of commercial airlines in several instances. He’s been investigated for undertaking expensive, first-class international travel with a large detail, and for spending $43,000 to build a soundproof phone booth in his office. Many questioned the ethics of him renting an apartment in Washington, D.C., from the wife of an energy lobbyist and traveling frequently to his home state of Oklahoma on the taxpayers’ dime.
He also oversaw large raises to favorite aides, reportedly against the express wishes of the White House. A senior scheduler was reportedly fired for questioning the practice of deleting controversial meetings from Pruitt’s calendar. And he asked aides to help his wife get a job, including seeking a meeting with an executive at Chick-fil-A, and to run personal errands for him, like tracking down a favorite lotion and trying to buy a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel in Washington.
Many of those scandals led to investigations. Pruitt and his activities have been the subject of numerous investigations by the EPA’s inspector general, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the Government Accountability Office, the White House Office of Management and Budget, and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. Bloomberg has a full rundown of the public inquiries, at least a dozen of which were still pending when Pruitt resigned.
So, if he could survive all that for this long, why quit now? It’s still unclear. What we do know: His replacement, Andrew Wheeler, holds views similar to Pruitt’s. Which means in the short term, the departure isn’t likely to change the trajectory of the EPA. But it has changed Trump’s Cabinet. Again.
Andrea Jones-Rooy contributed research for this article.