Rather than getting his own place in Washington D.C., EPA director Scott Pruitt has been living in a very nice condo owned by very well-paid energy consultant J. Steven Hart.
Pruitt may have fenced off an entire floor the EPA for his personal use, installed a whole separate security system to get into his private domain, staffed the building with a private army of at least 30 who escort people in an out of the sanctum Scottorum, and fitted his office with a cone of silence … but he hasn’t bothered to get a damn apartment. He spent much of his first year in office back in Oklahoma—spending up to $14,000 on a single domestic flight (which takes work). But when he’s not heading back to Tulsa or zipping off for a taxpayer-funded $120,000 vacation in Italy or an as yet untallied jaunt to Morocco for himself and a few dozen friends, he has to sleep somewhere.
And it turns out that somewhere is a pricey townhouse belonging to a guy who is “one of Washington’s top lobbyists.”
Neither the EPA nor the lobbyist, J. Steven Hart, would say how much Pruitt paid to live at the prime Capitol Hill address, though Hart said he believed it to be the market rate. The price tag on Pruitt’s rental arrangement is one key question when determining if it constitutes an improper gift, ethics experts told ABC News.
It’s one key question. But it’s not the only key question.
To have the head of the EPA living in a house provided to him by an energy lobbyist is like finding out the surgeon general was staying in the luxury suite at Philip Morris. Even if Pruitt was paying “market rate,” he was potentially in regular, unrecorded contact with lobbyists for the industry he is supposed to be regulating.
“I think it certainly creates a perception problem, especially if Mr. Hart is seeking to influence the agency,” said Bryson Morgan, the former investigative counsel at the U.S. House of Representatives Office of Congressional Ethics. “That’s why there is a gift rule.”
It’s not a “perspective problem.” It’s a f#@&ing problem. An absolute middle-finger to the American public showing a comfortable disregard for anything that even approaches ethics.
Powered by WPeMatico