Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt don't get along.
Since Pruitt's confirmation hearing, Whitehouse has been relentless. He's demanded records, filed complaints, and accused Pruitt of being in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry.
But Whitehouse's push to get Pruitt disbarred seems like a cheap shot.
In a complaint to the Oklahoma Bar Association, Whitehouse argues that Pruitt's "misleading answers, evasiveness, and stonewalling" should disqualify him from practicing law in his home state. In particular, Whitehouse complains that Pruitt wasn't forthcoming about his use of several email accounts during his time as Oklahoma attorney general.
Whether or not Whitehouse's charge has merit, trying to get Pruitt disbarred seems too cute by half. The senator is the wrong person, the bar association is the wrong place, and now is the wrong time.
Letting Whitehouse go after Pruitt is like letting a radical environmentalist fox in the regulatory henhouse. He's one of the most outspoken climate activists in Congress and he coincidently takes campaign cash from the environmental lobby hand over fist, including donations from green mega-donor Tom Steyer.
But if Whitehouse's motivations are a bit suspect, so are those of Oklahoma Bar Association. Litigating the integrity of the EPA administrator won't be possible there because that organization's president, Garvin Isaacs, reached a decision even before Pruitt's confirmation.
"It's the worst thing in the history of our environment!" the supposedly non-partisan Isaacs told the New Yorker. "We are in danger. The whole country is in danger. Our kids are in danger. People have got to do something about the Citizens United decision that is turning our country into an oligarchy, run by oil-and-gas interests."
A fair trial in that partisan environment hardly seems possible for Pruitt.
Most galling, though, is Whitehouse's insistence to go off the Hill to take a personal swipe at the EPA administrator. Disbarring Pruitt wouldn't keep him from doing his job. It'd just humiliate him and generate a new talking point.
If Democrats really find Pruitt objectionable, they should find a champion without clear conflicts of interest like Whitehouse, limit their attacks to the congressional sphere, or kick him out of office by winning in 2020.
Anything else seems petty.
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.