WASHINGTON – Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, a spendthrift with taxpayer funds, is frugal with his own money – but he doesn’t seem to care about conflicts of interest on his own dime.
According to ABC News, for the first six months of 2017, Pruitt paid $50 a night to rent space in a Capitol Hill condo, paying only for the nights he actually slept there. The condo is co-owned by the wife of a top lobbyist whose clients include oil refiners and natural gas pipeline operators.
“Most previous EPA administrators would have thought twice about accepting the offer of rock-bottom rent from the wife of a fossil fuel lobbyist, but this is Scott Pruitt,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “This sweetheart deal with the spouse of someone who lobbies the EPA on behalf of industries the agency regulates should be too controversial for even the Trump administration.”
“Thank goodness he used his own money, not the taxpayers’,” Cook added. “There’s no telling how high the price tag would have soared if he was sticking you and me with the bill.”
ABC said Pruitt worked directly to set up the deal with the condo’s co-owner Vicki Hart, who is married to Steven Hart, a prominent lobbyist who represents companies regulated under the Clean Air Act.
Not only did Pruitt get full access to the three-story condo while paying only for a single room, his daughter also lived there while she was a White House intern. Sources told ABC other condos in the neighborhood go for as much as $5,000 a month, but Bloomberg News reported that Pruitt paid $6,100 for his six-month stay.
“It doesn’t seem that the EPA’s so-called ethics office had a problem with this or any of Pruitt’s other questionable actions,” said Cook. “Who runs that office now, Gordon Gekko?”
Pruitt is already under multiple federal investigations by the EPA Inspector General and the House Oversight Committee for questionable and possibly unethical behavior, and potential abuse of taxpayer money. He has spent more than $200,000 in taxpayer funds on premium travel, including private planes, first-class commercial seats, luxury hotel rooms in Europe and New York City, as well as a private phone booth for his office that cost $43,000.