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 PruittJudge rules against Trump attempt to delay Obama water rule Acting EPA Administrator Wheeler, please listen to your boss and approve year-round E15 Reforms can stop members of Congress from using their public office for private gain 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 HollenTrump draws bipartisan fire over Brennan New sanctions would hurt Russia — but hurt American industry more Dems ask Mnuchin to probe Russian investment in state election tech 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.