Liberal group files lobbying complaint against Pruitt

Liberal group files lobbying complaint against Pruitt
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A liberal group has lodged a complaint against Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, alleging he violated federal lobbying laws in the run-up to President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate deal.

The American Democracy Legal Fund is asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to consider whether Pruitt improperly used his position to lobby the public on America's involvement in the Paris accord.

The group is citing federal law that bars federal agencies or officials from lobbying on issues that are before Congress. 

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Pruitt was one of the administration’s loudest critics of the Paris deal and a key supporter of Trump’s decision to leave it.

In April, he reportedly told the National Mining Association about his opposition. The lobbying group alleges such a pronouncement would run afoul of federal lobbying laws because members of Congress had previously introduced bills pertaining to the Paris deal.

The group also said media interviews he gave in which he spoke against the deal could violate similar lobbying bans.

“Administrator Pruitt’s communications demonstrate a clear appeal encouraging lawmakers in Congress to publicly support the United States’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, and thereby oppose pending legislation reaffirming the United States’s commitment to the agreement,” the group’s complaint said.

A spokesman for the EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The GAO only responds to investigative requests from members of Congress or federal officials, meaning someone else would need to back up the lobbyists' complaints before an audit of the agency’s actions would take place.

The GAO has previously ruled against EPA efforts that they concluded broke federal laws dealing with “covert propaganda.”

In 2015, the office ruled that the EPA, under Obama appointee Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyThe media’s tactics to silence science at Trump’s EPA Overnight Energy: EPA releases ozone findings | Lawmakers come out against Perry grid plan | Kids sue Trump on climate change Congress must come to terms on climate change regulation MORE, improperly used social media campaigns to support the proposed “waters of the United States” rule.