GOP Sen. Kennedy slams EPA administrator Scott Pruitt for 'juvenile' behavior

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) lambasted embattled Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt over his “juvenile” behavior and numerous ethical scandals. 

“Stop acting like a chucklehead, stop the unforced errors, stop leading with your chin,” Kennedy said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” while addressing the multiple controversies currently surrounding Pruitt. “If you don’t need to fly first class, don’t. Don’t turn on the siren on your SUV just to watch people move over. You represent the president of the United States.”

He added, “All of this behavior is juvenile, it’s distracting from the business that we’re trying to do for the American people.”

At least 23 ethical issues are dogging Pruitt, including a $50-a-night sweetheart deal to rent a room in a luxury Capitol Hill townhouse linked to a fossil fuel industry lobbying firm, unapproved raises for his top staff, first-class airfare worth thousands of dollars, and costly, round-the-clock security.  Two reports last week also alleged that Pruitt tried to use his vehicle’s emergency sirens to cut through traffic and that five EPA officials who challenged Pruitt’s “unusually large spending” were either reassigned, demoted or forced out.

RELATED: Director of Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt

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Former Director of Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt

Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), speaks to employees of the Agency in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2017.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), greets employees of the agency in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2017.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Director of Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt is sworn in by Justice Samuel Alito as his wife Marilyn holds a bible during ceremony at the Executive Office in Washington, U.S., February 17, 2017.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), greets employees of the agency in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2017.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's pick as head of the Environmental Protectional Agency, meets with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2017.

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt testifies before a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, U.S., January 18, 2017.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R), U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), meets with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) (L) in her office on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 4, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's pick as head of the Environmental Protectional Agency, meets with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2017.

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Oklahoma Farm Bureau Vice President of Public Policy John R.H. Collison (L) meets with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) to discuss state water issues at the attorney generals office in Oklahoma City, July 29, 2014.

(REUTERS/Nick Oxford)

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt in a meeting at his office in Oklahoma City, July 29, 2014. 

(REUTERS/Nick Oxford)

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“Why do you want ― in his position ― why do you want to rent an apartment from a lobbyist for God’s sake?“ Kennedy added. “Stop leading with your chin. Now, these are unforced errors. They are stupid. There are a lot of problems we can’t solve. But you can behave.”

Kennedy did not say, however, whether he thinks Pruitt should be ousted. 

“That’s really up to the president,” he said. “I know what I would do if I were Mr. Pruitt, I would call a press conference tomorrow and I would say, ‘Okay let’s talk about your criticisms of me.’”

Only three GOP lawmakers have called on Pruitt to step down: Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).

Most conservatives enthusiastically support Pruitt and view him as one of President Donald Trump’s most effective cabinet members, citing his success at rolling back a number of Barack Obama’s environmental regulations.

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), for example, said Sunday in a separate interview that Pruitt should retain his position because “he’s following through with the policies that the president said he wanted to implement.” Pruitt’s effectiveness at cutting regulations, he argued, outweighed any ethical lapses. 

“Let’s take a look at how many dollars the EPA an actually save,” Rounds said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “The big picture. You know, we’ll nitpick little things. He has too many people on his security detail. It may add up to, to more than what the previous guy did. But what about the big picture of, how he’s taking care of the taxpayers’ dollars with the department, the EPA?”

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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