Pruitt's political operation becomes a weapon for Dems

By Elana Schor, Politico.

As Democrats look for an opening to derail Scott Pruitt's nomination to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, they're zeroing in on his leadership of a group of Republican attorneys general with close ties to fossil-fuel companies he'd have to regulate for Donald Trump. 

After initially focusing on Pruitt's resistance to climate change science, Democrats have pivoted to decrying his past chairmanship of the Republican Attorneys General Association, slamming him for raising money from the fossil-fuel industry while filing lawsuits against regulations that companies opposed. And Democrats point to Pruitt's history of litigation as Oklahoma's attorney general — 14 legal challenges against the agency he's now set to helm — to ask whether he'll be able to impartially handle many of those same cases as a defendant after taking over EPA.

“I think they have decided that the Republican Attorneys General Association is part of their farm team,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said. ”They’re funding it accordingly and are systematically trying to advance their agenda at the state level at the same time as identifying people who will do their bidding at the federal level.” 

“It’s a problem for the country that you have chief law enforcement officers of individual states who are now operating as partisans,” Schatz added.

Jessica Mackler, chief of the Democratic super PAC American Bridge, summed up the party's case against the Oklahoman. "The only explanation for Pruitt's eagerness to lead the EPA is that he hopes to continue his track record of taking fossil fuel money then using his influence to help polluters maximize their profit margins while the American people pay the price," she said in a statement.

RAGA’s ascendancy came with a boost from Pruitt, who helped the group come into its own as a political force during his chairmanship. RAGA fundraising leapt from $4.5 million in 2010 to $6.9 million in 2012, when Pruitt took over, to $16 million in 2014.