Democrats in Congress Demand that Environmental Protection Administrator Scott Pruitt announce details of his use of a Capitol Hill House in 2017 bound to a top energy lobbyist.
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U.S. Representative Don Beyer, a Democrat from Virginia, urged Pruitt to "immediately clarify the terms of his housing contract" and "publish all correspondence" with the veteran lobbyist whose wife is the townhouse.
ABC News reported Thursday that Pruitt was living in a townhouse near the US Capitol Complex for much of his first year in Washington, showing ownership records of 201
The lobbyist J. Steven Hart would not reveal how much Pruitt paid to live there, and the EPA did not respond to requests for comments. Harts wife, Vicki, is a co-owner of the property. Arriving late Thursday, she declined to comment.
One source familiar with the arrangement said Pruitt had rented a single bedroom in a top condo unit while looking for a permanent home. He rented the unit from early 2017 to August. No one occupied the other bedrooms of the unit, the source said.
Hart is the chairman of the lobbying firm Williams and Jensen, which lobbies on EPA policies such as the Clean Air Act, according to their website. The company also engaged in issues related to liquefied natural gas exports and represented Cheniere Energy Inc., which at the time had the only active liquefied natural gas export facility in the United States.
Pruitt traveled to Morocco last December, and the EPA said in a press release that liquefied natural gas exports a discussion topic during this trip.
Cheniere Energy spokeswoman Rachel Carmichel told ABC News that the company had terminated its business relationship with Hart in December 2017. Spokeswoman went on to say Cheniere was and said the company was unaware of the relationship and had not used Harts company to To have talks with the EPA.
The EPA did not respond to ABC News & # 39; questions as to whether Harts lobby company had any involvement in organizing meetings during the trip from Pruitt to Morocco.
Several Republican members of the Congress also failed to return ABC News inquiries about the revelations, including Senator John Barrasso, Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Barrasso, from Wyoming, led Pruitt to a coal mine tour on Thursday with his colleague Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi.
WY was blessed with tremendous natural resources that help America, and today we've seen this first-hand at Black Thunder. @EPA is committed to working with our energy producers as partners to protect the environment and provide Americans with affordable energy. https://t.co/DvuMGiS1af pic.twitter.com/zsFSDe9dZZ
– Administrator Pruitt (@EPAScottPruitt) March 29, 2018
But Democrats in the main congressional committees that oversee the EPA expressed indignation at the undisclosed order.
"Administrator Pruitt should disclose the lease so we can see if he has been given preferential treatment, schedules, and travel plans because he was the secret administrator of the EPA we've ever had," said US Senator Tom Udall. DN.M.
"Unfortunately, this seems to be another example in a similar pattern with Mr. Pruitt," said US Senator Tom Carper, D-Del., Senior member of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works.
Democrats from the House Energy and Commerce Committee responsible for EPA tweeted about the ABC News Report and some Democratic members tweeted about the case with the #BootPruitt hashtag, part of a href = "http: / /abcnews.go .com / Politics / environmental-groups-launch-ads-fox-friends-boot-pruitt / story? id = 54071248 "target =" _ blank "> Coordinated campaign against the admin that started this week by several environmental groups.
These include groups such as the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the League of Conservation Voters, who argue that Pruitt's decisions benefit the oil and gas industry.
"EPA's administrator should defend against corporate polluters and not live in their homes as they push their agendas around," Sierra Executive Director Michael Brune said in a statement.
The Non-Profit Watchdog Group's leader, the Environmental Integrity Project, and former EPA Civil Defense Director Eric Shaffer called on the EPO's General Inspector and Congress to address the issue.
"Is that why Pruitt traveled to Morocco to stimulate natural gas exports, which is not really an EPA problem?" Scheffer wrote in a statement.
The office of the EPO Inspector General is familiar with the report, according to spokesman Jeff Lagda.
The Inspector General of the Agency is already considering the cost of Pruit's travel and whether the Agency has followed all due process.
Previously, the EPA confirmed that Pruitt frequently flies First or Business Class for business reasons. He later told CBS News that he had asked his staff to reconsider this policy. It is expected that this report will be released later this year, as well as an audit of Pruit's personal security details.
ABC News & # 39; Katherine Faulders and Ali Dukakis contributed to this report.