EPA chief stayed in condo tied to lobbyist

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt left at the Black Thunder coal mine outside of Wright Wyo. for a press conference with local media Thursday Mar. 29 2018./The Casper Star Tribune via AP

EPA chief stayed in condo tied to lobbyist

It may be spring, but Scott Pruitt's scandals continue to snowball, as ABC News reported today that Pruitt worked directly with fossil fuel industry lobbyist Steven Hart to secure living arrangements in a townhouse owned by the same lobbyist's wife. There are other considerations when reviewing the arrangement, including the terms of the agreement. Her husband, Steven Hart, is chairman and CEO of Williams and Jensen PLLC, a lobbying firm with several energy industry clients regulated by the EPA.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island said he has new evidence, given to him confidentially by an anonymous source, that Pruitt uses his expensive security detail on non-official business trips, including vacations to Disneyland, the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day, and back home to Tulsa, Oklahoma. "We call on the EPA's Inspector General, who is already investigating Mr. Pruitt in three other cases, to immediately launch an investigation into gifts from lobbyists to Administrator Scott Pruitt in the form of deeply discounted living quarters".

On the heels of ABC News' revelation that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt lived at the beginning of his tenure in a townhouse connected to a major energy lobbyist, the outlet broke a weird story on Friday about his security detail breaking down the door of the townhouse, convinced that Pruitt was unconscious inside.

Hart is reported to have lobbied EPA on behalf of the glass container manufacturer Owens-Illinois, but he told E&E News that those lobbying forms were in error.

In December, Pruitt and members of his staff spent about $40,000 in public funds to fly to Morocco to help encourage the import of liquefied natural gas from the United States. He has also been criticized for removing environmental information from the EPA's website.

In a statement to The Associated Press on Thursday, Hart said Pruitt is a casual friend from Oklahoma who moved into the building in early 2017.

Pruitt reportedly worked out a sweetheart $50-a-night deal with Hart - only paying for nights he stayed at the Washington apartment and writing checks sporadically for a total of $6,100 over the course of six months a year ago. According to federal disclosure reports, the company paid Williams and Jensen $400,000 in 2017 to lobby on issues that included EPA regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

A Republican who previously served as the state attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt has always been a champion of the oil and gas industry.

Records show Pruitt has had a long relationship with OGE.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt brings his security detail with him just about everywhere, including personal trips, according to a letter from a Democratic senator obtained by CNN. At his current interest rate, Pruitt would be paying almost $5,500 per month on his mortgage and property taxes. Jeffrey Lagda, a spokesman for EPA's internal watchdog, said Friday that the office has been made aware of the allegations over Pruitt's lease.

The latest wrinkle to the story involves Pruitt's security detail, and more EPA expenses.

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