Scott Pruitt's lease in a Washington apartment owned by a lobbyist allowed him to pay $ 50 a night for a single room – but only on nights he actually slept there.
White House officials he was dismayed by the issues surrounding Pruitt's lifestyle, including his initial inability to provide any documentation on his lease or actual payments, three officials said. The landlord provided the EPA officials with a copy of the lease and a receipt of the payments made by Pruitt.
The questions follow the criticism of Pruitt for traveling first class on scheduled flights.
In total, Pruitt paid $ 6,100 to use the room about six months after making copies of the checks reviewed by Bloomberg. These checks show different amounts paid on sporadic data ̵
That was because of the unusual rental plan – not a single monthly amount, but a daily amount only for days that are for a single room in the two-bedroom unit just blocks from the Capitol. The owner is a health lobbyist, Vicki Hart. Her husband J. Steven Hart is also a lobbyist and his firm represents clients in industries regulated by the EPA.
A person familiar with the lease compared them to an Airbnb-like arrangement, but Pruitt was not transience and instead, on the nights he was in Washington, he made the home his home. The lease – reviewed by Bloomberg – says he was charged $ 50 a night "based on days of actual occupancy."
Six Checks Canceled
Bloomberg reviewed six canceled checks made by Pruitt amounting to $ 6,100 from March 18 to Sept. 1, 2017. He paid $ 450 on March 18, $ 900 on April 26, $ 850 on May 15, $ 700 on June 4, $ 1,500 on July 22, and $ 1,700 on September 1.
Justina Fugh, the ethics consultant at the EPA for a dozen years, said the agreement was not an ethical issue because Pruitt paid rent. A consultant said the agency had not checked the arrangement in advance.
The payments covered Pruit's room in the two-bedroom unit, but did not allow him the generous use of the common areas, where the owners had dinner parties and other functions to a person familiar with the situation. Someone else rented the other bedroom. After the lease Pruitts bedroom could not be locked.
After ABC News reported on the Residential Agreement on Thursday, EPA employees had to request documentation from the owners of the building to prove that they had paid rent, causing concern in the White House. said two of the people who had asked not to be named when discussing a sensitive matter involving a Cabinet Secretary. Pruitt was in Wyoming on Thursday.
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The revelation follows revelations about Pruit's reliance on first-class air travel around the globe and a series of costly trips, including a visit by Pruitt and agency staff to Italy, which cost $ 120,249 costs. EPA officials defended Pruitt's use of world-class flights for safety reasons, but after a series of reports, he switched to the coach.
J. Steven Hart is the chairman of Williams & Jensen, a firm with a strong customer base in the energy industry, including Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co., which paid the company $ 400,000 in 2017, according to the Environmental Integrity Project
Pruitt, the former Attorney General of Oklahoma, was an avid crusader against the Obama era regulations designed to combat climate change and limit air pollution. When Pruitt was in Oklahoma, he sued the EPA more than a dozen times.
Hart's individual lobbying clients include the Liquefied Natural Gas Exporter Cheniere Energy Inc., the American Automotive Policy Council and Smithfield Foods Inc. But the Department of Energy – not the EPA – plays the most important role of the LNG It is not clear that Hart had direct contact with the EPA on behalf of one of his lobby customers in 2017, according to a Bloomberg News review of the disclosures.
"At least, it does not look good for the EPA administrator to have rented an apartment from the wife of an energy industry lobbyist who represents EPA-regulated businesses," said Eric Schaeffer, director of the Environmental Integrity Project.
Schaeffer Called EPA General Inspector and Congress
Fugh, the EPA ethics consultant, said that no gift was involved. It was a routine business agreement between Pruitt and an individual, not a lobby firm, she added.
"He paid a fair price for what is just a room," said Fugh. "I do not even believe that the fact that the house belongs to a person whose job it is to be a lobbyist worries us."