Democrats now want EPA chief Scott Pruitt criminally investigated for using his position to try to land his wife a job with Chick-fil-A.
Six Congressional Democrats sent a letter on Friday asking the FBI to investigate Pruitt for any crimes committed when he attempted to use his influence as head of the EPA to ask the CEO of Chick-fil-A to help his wife buy one of the fast food chain’s franchises.
“We formally request that the FBI open an investigation into Administrator Scott Pruitt’s conduct to assess whether he broke the law, including criminal statutes prohibiting public corruption,” reads the letter, signed by six Democratic members of Congress, which notes that federal law prohibits public officials from using their positions for private gain.
“Administrator Pruitt has certainly done just that,” write Reps. Don Beyer and Gerald Connolly of Virginia, Jamie Raskin of Maryland, Ted Lieu of California, Ruben Gallego of Arizona, and Pramila Jayapal of Washington.
About three months after Pruitt took office, he had one of his staff email Dan Cathy, the Chick-fil-A CEO, to set up a call about a “business opportunity,” according to emails obtained by the Washington Post earlier this week.
“Nothing very pressing, just hoping to connect sometime in the next month or two,” wrote Sydney Hupp, Pruitt’s scheduler at the time.
When Cathy and Pruitt did eventually connect, Pruitt asked him to help his wife buy a franchise. “The subject of that phone call was an expression of interest in his wife becoming a Chick-fil-A franchisee,” company representative Carrie Kurlander told The Washington Post via email.
"Look, 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, and that's something we were very excited about, and we need more of them in Tulsa, and we need more of them across the country. So anyway, it's an exciting time," Pruitt told a reporter from Nextstar TV in Washington D.C. after the news broke.
Chick-fil-A is indeed a “franchise of faith”: The company donated millions of dollars to defend “traditional marriage.” All Chick-fil-A’s are also closed on Sundays so its employees can attend church. Cathy’s also known for his public distaste of gay marriage.
“We’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,” Cathy said on a radio show in 2012. “And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude that thinks we have the audacity to redefine what marriage is all about.”
In the end, Marlyn Pruitt did not open a Chick-fil-A. She began an application but didn’t complete it. (Becoming a Chick-fil-A franchisee, as it turns out, is a lot of work).
Pruitt later tried to get his wife another job — this one at Concordia, a New York-based non-profit. She didn’t end up taking that role either, but the company’s CEO, Matthew Swift, paid for Marlyn’s travel expenses to attend a conference at which Pruitt spoke.
Pruitt is facing at least a dozen federal investigations for his numerous scandals.
Read the full letter here:
Cover image: Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), testifies before the Senate Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee during a hearing on the FY2019 Budget Request for the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C on May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kristoffer Tripplaar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)