For a government official to merit dismissal from a position in a democratic country, that official need only give the appearance of corruption because that “mere” appearance of corruption on the part of someone entrusted with the privilege of serving the people suffices to throw mud on the face of democracy. It demeans our way of life and undermines our freedom.
We have prima facie evidence that Pruitt was offered and accepted a bribe. Pruitt has given the appearance of being corrupt. When judging whether or not the action of any government employee, especially of a high official, is appropriate from an ethics perspective, the appearance of corruption suffices to make the judgment concerning whether or not that government employee should be allowed to continue in his position. Whether or not that person merits arrest, trial, and–if convicted–jail time is not the question. The question facing Pruitt (not to mention others) concerns appearances. For a high government official, appearances are crucial because when the public gets the impression of rampant corruption, that impression weakens the fabric of democracy underpinning our freedom.
Let’s put it this way: if Pruitt had rented his personal condo to an 18-year-old of breathtaking beauty for only $50/day, that would create an “appearance” reasonably leading a wife to take exception to his behavior.
Pruitt is guilty of creating the appearance of corruption. He knowingly put himself in the position that would make it more difficult for him to resist paying off the favor received. His poor judgment disqualifies him from serving the American people. He should be fired.
Then he should be investigated. If he gave any favors to the contractors who gave him the cosy little gift, then he should be arrested.