Pruitt confirms he has a legal defense fund

Pruitt confirms he has a legal defense fund
© Greg Nash

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittSchwarzenegger: Pruitt is the worst EPA head 'we have ever had' Overnight Energy: Pruitt’s security cost .5m in first year | Watchdog clears Perry's use of military, charter flights Congress should invest in science at the EPA MORE said Wednesday that an external fund has been established to help him with legal costs.

Pruitt confirmed the reporting of The New York Times in a back-and-forth with Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenSenate Dems’ campaign chief ‘welcomes’ midterm support from Clintons The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — GOP centrists in striking distance of immigration vote Overnight Finance: House sends Dodd-Frank rollbacks to Trump | What's in the bill | Trump says there is 'no deal' to help ZTE | Panel approves bill to toughen foreign investment reviews MORE (D-Md.) during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.

“It’s been set up,” he said in response to Van Hollen’s questions.

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The fund will let friends, allies, lobbyists and others donate to help defray any legal costs Pruitt might incur amid the numerous ethics and spending scandals currently surrounding him, and the dozen or so federal investigations into them.

But lobbyists and corporations with business before the EPA will not be allowed to donate, Pruitt told Van Hollen.

Pruitt indicated that he is not directly involved in the operations of the fund.

“I don’t accept donations. I don’t solicit donations. That’s done by attorneys and others,” he said.

Pruitt said his attorney has been communicating with the Government Accountability Office and the White House’s Office of Government Ethics (OGE) to establish the fund and follow relevant laws.

Pruitt said the fund would follow the OGE’s recommendations that it not accept any anonymous donations, and that all donations be made public.

Pruitt has been under scrutiny for everything from his first-class travel expenses to large raises given to some of his top aides.