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Scott Pruitt expects to address ethical issues before Congress



Following a series of negative headlines, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt will travel to Capitol Hill for two congressional hearings this week, where his performance could play a role in his future administration, amid tough questions from Democrats and Republicans.

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The hearings affect the budget of the EPA, but they also give the legislator the opportunity to inquire about other concerns, including allegations that the agency has abused taxpayers' money.

The renewed wave of criticism of Pruitt followed a report by ABC News that he had lived in an apartment owned by the wife of a prominent lobbyist. The pressure grew after media reports showed that Pruitt had bypassed the White House to offer wage increases to several employees. And there were new questions about his spending on travel and around the clock security details.

"It is an important hearing for him, especially among the various clouds he is currently under," said Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment of the Institute of Competitive Energy, who led Trump's EPO transition team ,

Pruitt also faces new headlines this week over a previously undisclosed meeting with lobbyist J. Steven Hart in July 201

7 while living in a condominium owned by Hart's wife, who is also a lobbyist and raises questions about Earlier statements Hart and Pruitt made about their business.

  In this April 3, 2018, file photo, Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, speaks at a press conference at the EPA in Washington [19659909] AP </span></picture></div><figcaption><span class= In this April 3, 2018, photo, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks at a press conference at the EPA in Washington

The embattled agent chief, the former Attorney General of Oklahoma, has denied wrongdoing.

His spending and possible ethics violations are the subject of ten separate investigations after the EPA General Inspector last week informed Congress that he would review his use of agency travel security for personal travel. In recent weeks, around 170 Democrats have called for his resignation, and he has sharply commented on by some Republicans, including four who have campaigned for his dismissal.

Before the hearings, the Democrats have raised new questions about the agency's decision to spend more than $ 43,000 on the Installation issued a "secured phone booth" and conducted a wiretapping service in Pruitt's office, claiming that EPO documents indicated that the eviction and the estate did not meet government security standards.

"He's very articulate, he knows what his agenda is, so I do not think the policy issues will be a particular challenge for him," Ebell said. "The questions about his personal behavior will be something the Democrats will focus on.

"If there are other allegations coming out, he is vulnerable."

Pruitt has consistently maintained the public support of President Donald Trump. But the White House has launched its own review of its actions to grant increases to several top consultants who moved with it from Oklahoma. Press spokeswoman Sarah Sanders dismissed several questions about Pruitt on Monday and agreed to the agency chief's success in reducing the regulations.

"We are reviewing some of these allegations," Sanders said. "However, Administrator Pruitt has done a good job of implementing the President's policies, in particular the deregulation of making the United States less energy dependent and energy self-sufficient, which are good things."

Pruitts Travel was a particularly sore spot with some in the White House. In his first months as an administrator, he repeatedly traveled to his home state of Oklahoma. After the EPO's internal watch officer had agreed to cover these trips in August, and the president had dismissed former health and social affairs minister Tom Price for the cost of his trip next month, questions about Pruit's travels raised even more attention.

The EPO Inspector General is also expected to publish reports on Pruitts official travel for the full year 2017 and its security details, which, according to the agency, have increased to 24-7 due to increasing threats against Pruitt. These requests are expected to relate to Pruitt's frequent use of premium flights, which is recommended by his security details, and whether the agency has followed all due process.

There are indications that the continuing questions about its spending are affecting the Republicans.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has requested documents and documentation on Pritts travel and security expenses and interviews with at least five Pruitt top employees. This request came not long after top Democrats in the committee had stated that they had reviewed internal EPO documents that questioned whether Pruitt's security details exaggerated the threats against him to justify expenses such as first-rate flights.

In a recent interview with Fox News, Gowdy was skeptical of the EPA argument that Pruitt had flown first class due to security threats on work travel.

Pruitt told reporters he would instruct his staff to book him on more bus flights.

"The idea that I have to fly in first grade because I do not want people to be mean to me means you have to go in a different direction if you do not want people to be mean to you. Like maybe a monk with no one to contact, "he said.

  PHOTO: Environmental Protection Agency Designated Administrator Scott Pruitt, left, is being greeted on Capitol Hill, Washington on January 18, 2017 by Senator John Barrasso. J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo
Designated Environmental Administrator Scott Pruitt, left, is greeted on Capitol Hill, Washington on January 18, 2017 by Senator John Barrasso.

Republican employees of House Energy and Commerce The committee was also in contact with the EPA regarding Pruitts controversial issues.

"I think he has the responsibility to answer important questions, and I do not think he did that," said MEP Leonard Lance, R-N.J.

Kevin Chmielewski, Pruit's former deputy chief of staff, met with congressional investigators in the House of Representatives and in the Senate after claiming that Pruitt had to answer him for questioning his travel expenses.

On Friday, law firm Williams & Jensen announced in a new filing that Hart was involved with EPA in early 2018 on behalf of Smithfield Foods. Hart's spokesman Ryan Williams, the lobbyist, along with Smithfield vice president Dennis Treacy, earlier met with Pruitt – in 2017 – in a personal capacity.

Hart and Smithfield Foods denied that lobbying had taken place.

"I helped a friend who served on the Chesapeake Bay Commission, and that's inaccurately linked to Smithfield Foods, I was not paid for that help, and any suggestion I made for Smithfield Foods is inaccurate," Hart said in a statement.

A Williams & Jensen spokesman said that an "independent review of the company's lobbying activity prior to the quarterly filing date concluded that Mr. Hart had lobbied with the Environmental Protection Agency in the first quarter of 2018. The company has filed the lawsuit required mandatory information. "

The company is currently reviewing its revelations in 2017.


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