WHAT WE KNOW; Pruitt's Fossil Fuel Lobbyist Housing Scandal


Lauren Lantry, lauren.lantry@sierraclub.org 

It may be spring, but Scott Pruitt’s scandals have snowballed into a full blown avalanche. Here’s what we know after this week’s blizzard of bad headlines for the Trump Administration courtesy of Scott Pruitt.

“This is not a simple conflict of interest -- this is corruption, plan and simple. Pruitt got a sweetheart deal from a fossil fuel lobbyist and then pushed the agenda of that lobbyist at the EPA and on taxpayer-funded international trips -- and that’s just the latest scandal. The fossil fuel lobbyists Pruitt is taking favors and marching orders from are telling him to throw out the safeguards that keep our air and water safe from their pollution, and our kids are at risk as a result. The only way for this non-stop deluge of scandals and negative headlines to stop is for Pruitt to be fired immediately.” -- Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club

  • Scott Pruitt worked directly with a lobbyist for the fossil fuel industry and automakers to arrange a sweetheart deal on a townhouse co-owned by the lobbyist’s wife in a high-priced D.C. neighborhood.

  • The lobbyist - Steven Hart -  is the head of the DC lobbying firm Williams and Jensen, which specifically lobbies the EPA on Clean Air Act policies, according to ABC. Hart represents Cheniere Energy, the company that owned the only operating Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) export plant in the U.S. at the time of Scott Pruitt’s taxpayer-funded trip to Morocco where he advocated for LNG exports.

  • Hart’s firm also represents the American Automotive Policy Council, which includes automakers such as Ford, who lobbied Pruitt’s forthcoming decision to roll back clean car standards.

  • Pruitt reportedly paid for just one room in the otherwise unoccupied townhouse, and declined to tell ethics officials his adult daughter stayed in another room he was not paying for.

  • Pruitt reportedly paid far below market value for the room he rented and ethics officials from both past Republican and Democratic administrations say he violated federal ethics rules for accepting gifts from lobbyists as a result, while Ethics expert Norm Eisen noted the violations may “have crossed into criminal territory.”

  • Here is a map of AirBnB rates in the same neighborhood as the lobbyist’s townhouse. Similar units cost up to $5,000 a month. Pruitt paid $6,100 for his entire six month stay.

  • While living in the home, Hart continued to have dinner parties and functions, raising questions about whether political fundraisers were held in the House while Pruitt was there. Hart and his firm have donated more than $600,000 to political candidates this year.

  • To top it off, Pruitt’s security detail broke down the door of the townhouse concerned that Pruitt was unconscious. It turned out Pruitt was merely napping...on a workday afternoon. The EPA reimbursed the lobbyist for the door, meaning he was likely paid with taxpayer dollars. (Speaking of taxpayer dollars -- Pruitt has a habit of wasting money when he’s not the one picking up the tab).

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.