From Rep. Don Beyer’s office:
Unanswered Questions In Pruitt “Quid Pro Condo” Scandal
April 5, 2018 (Washington, D.C.) – The cloud of scandal surrounding EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt continued to thicken in the week following the initial report that he got a special deal on his condo rent from an energy lobbyist, which apparently included free rent for his family. In response, calls from Members of Congress for Pruitt to resign are now bipartisan.
Meanwhile a number of questions about Pruitt’s conduct in the matter remain unanswered:
1) If Scott Pruitt’s special rent deal with energy lobbyist Steven Hart was above board, why has Pruitt been so secretive about it? He didn’t tell the EPA, the White House is investigating him for it after the fact, and he has been slow to justify his behavior to the public and to Congress.
2) Pruitt reportedly did not inform the EPA ethics officials of his rent arrangement with an energy lobbyist until after the fact, which led to their issuing a rushedstatement supporting that arrangement before they learned that it had included free rent for his family. That statement has since been walked back. Did any political appointees pressure EPA ethics officials to back up Pruitt’s actions?
3) Campaign fundraisers were held at the condo while Pruitt stayed there. Was he present at any of them? Did he discuss EPA business?
4) Why were members of Pruitt’s security detail so frantic to reach him that they broke a door down? Why was he “unresponsive?” How did the EPA justify the significant expense of repairing the door, and will Pruitt reimburse taxpayers for it?
5) The EPA approved a request to expand a pipeline by Enbridge, a client of Hart’s lobbying firm, while Pruitt was living in Hart’s condo. What other such connections exist between clients of that firm and EPA regulatory actions during or after Pruitt’s residence there?
6) Did Pruitt’s mysterious and expensive trip to Morocco to pitch liquid natural gas exports – activity well outside the scope of the EPA’s mission – relate in any way to lobbying by Hart’s firm for its client, Cheniere Energy?
7) Pruitt did a media tour yesterday in which he repeatedly claimed that all of his actions were above board. Does Pruitt really not see any ethical issues with getting a special rent deal from an energy lobbyist who hosted a fundraiser for his campaign to become Oklahoma’s Attorney General?
8) In a FoxNews interview with Ed Henry Wednesday (described as “brutal” and “a trainwreck”) Pruitt said he was unaware of raises secured for his aides using an obscure legislative loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act to bypass a White House rejection… but we know Pruitt used the loophole to hire staff and avoid Trump’s ethics pledge. Will Pruitt allow Congress, press, and the public to see internal correspondence which led to those raises, and hold any subordinates responsible for overruling the White House accountable?
9) One of those aides, whom Pruitt brought with him from Oklahoma, helped run his search for new housing. Did she conduct any part of that search on official, taxpayer-subsidized time?
10) Why does Scott Pruitt still have a job with the Trump Administration?
These are just some of the many questions raised by Pruitt’s secret housing arrangement. The public deserves answers, and Congress should seek them if they are not provided by Pruitt or the Trump Administration.
Representative Beyer is the Vice Ranking Member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and the Ranking Member of its Subcommittee on Oversight. He serves as co-Chair of the Congressional Safe Climate Caucus.