Oversight chairman probes Pruitt's $50-a-night condo deal

Oversight chairman probes Pruitt's $50-a-night condo deal
© UPI Photo

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyDem lawmaker calls on House to subpoena American translator from Trump-Putin meeting The Hill's Morning Report — Trump isolated and denounced after Putin meeting Ryan: 'The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally' MORE (R-S.C.) has begun probing Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Fewer than half of school districts test for lead | Dems slam proposed changes to Endangered Species Act | FEMA avoids climate change when discussing plan for future storms Greens sue EPA over ‘super-polluting’ truck rule Don’t worry (too much) about Kavanaugh changing the Supreme Court MORE’s $50-a-night housing arrangement on Capitol Hill, a GOP source told The Hill Friday night.

The investigation adds to a growing controversy surrounding Pruitt, who already faces some calls to resign from both sides of the aisle.

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee “has been looking into Pruitt’s condo deal,” a Gowdy aide said. “The EPA produced documents to the Committee this week, including both the March 30 and April 4 memos.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The pair of internal memos were written by Kevin Minoli, the EPA’s designated ethics official. In the first memo, Minoli concluded that Pruitt’s $50-a-night lease with co-owner Vicki Hart — the wife of an energy lobbyist — did not violate federal gift rules.

But just days later, on Wednesday, Minoli wrote in another memo that he made that conclusion without having all the facts.

“Some have raised questions whether the actual use of the space was consistent with the terms of the lease,” Minoli wrote, according to The Washington Post. “Evaluating those questions would have required factual information that was not before us and the review does not address those questions.” 

Gowdy has been under mounting pressure to step up his investigation into Pruitt, who’s faced a barrage of negative headlines in recent weeks related to his living arrangements and spending on private jets, office furniture and a security detail. 

Pruitt has maintained the lease followed ethics requirements and that his spending is not excessive.

In February, Gowdy began investigating Pruitt over numerous first-class flights funded by taxpayers. But so far, the retiring GOP chairman has not acted on calls by his Democratic counterpart, Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsDem lawmaker calls on House to subpoena American translator from Trump-Putin meeting Hillicon Valley: Trump denies Russian meddling at presser with Putin | Republicans join in criticism of Trump | FCC chief rejects Sinclair-Tribune merger | Uber faces probe over gender discrimination | Social media execs headed to Capitol Overnight Energy: Koch backs bill opposing carbon taxes | Lawmakers look to Interior budget to block offshore drilling | EPA defends FOIA process MORE of Maryland, to bring Pruitt before his committee to personally answer lawmakers’ questions.

Dozens of Democrats on Friday called for Pruitt to resign or be fired. Three House Republicans — Reps. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-Lehtinen'Paws for Celebration' event brings rescue animals to the Capitol An important story that must be told GOP lawmakers relieved with Pruitt’s departure MORE (R-Fla.), Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloMueller indictments: Congressional candidate asked Russian operatives for info on opponent Lawmakers discuss efforts to boost Latino entrepreneurship On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump suggests China is easing pressure on North Korea because of trade fight | Mulvaney taps top aide as No. 2 at consumer bureau | House Republican to offer bill to curtail Trump's trade powers MORE (R-Fla.) and Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikGOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki House GOP reverses, cancels vote on Dem bill to abolish ICE Overnight Defense: VA pick breezes through confirmation hearing | House votes to move on defense bill negotiations | Senate bill would set 'stringent' oversight on North Korea talks MORE (R-N.Y.) — also have called for Pruitt's ouster.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE has indicated support for Pruitt, but noted this week he would be looking into the mounting accusations against him.