Wed, Apr 04, 2018 - Page 7 News List

White House probing EPA boss Pruitt’s actions: WSJ

Reuters, WASHINGTON

The White House is reviewing US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s activities after reports he paid below the market rate to live in a condo owned by a lobbyist who deals with issues overseen by the agency, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Monday, citing an unnamed White House official.

Pruitt has declined to comment on the rental arrangement reported last week and a spokesman for the agency on Friday defended his conduct and said the lease agreement was in line with federal ethical regulations.

The WSJ quoted the official as saying the purpose of the inquiry was to “dig a little deeper.”

Another White House official said few people were coming to Pruitt’s defense, although there is no sign yet that his position is in jeopardy, the paper said.

ABC News and Bloomberg News reported last week that during his first six months in Washington last year, Pruitt made a deal to pay about US$50 a night — less than a third the price of similar properties — to rent a room in a Capitol Hill condo building co-owned by energy industry lobbyist Steven Hart and his wife.

Pruitt is also one of several members of US President Donald Trump’s Cabinet who have come under scrutiny for their travel practices. The EPA confirmed last month that Pruitt’s private security detail accompanied him on first-class flights.

Hart’s firm represents companies regulated by the EPA, including Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co, shale producer Concho Resources, ExxonMobil Corp and liquefied natural gas (LNG) company Cheniere Energy.

Travel records obtained through a public records request show that Pruitt spent more than US$17,000 in taxpayer money for a trip in December last year to Morocco to promote US exports of LNG, which is not part of his job’s jurisdiction.

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