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

Oversight chairman probes Pruitt's $50-a-night condo deal
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House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyHouse Dem calls on lawmakers to 'insulate' election process following Mueller report Democrats put harassment allegations against Trump on back burner Democrats seize on Mueller-Barr friction MORE (R-S.C.) has begun probing Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Six Interior officials under ethics investigation | EPA chief failed to disclose former lobbying client | Greens ask Wheeler to back up claim that climate change is '50 to 75 years out' EPA head asked to back up claim that climate change is '50 to 75 years out' Overnight Energy: Flint residents can sue EPA over water crisis | Environmentalists see victory with Green New Deal blitz | March global temperatures were second hottest on record | EPA told to make final decision on controversial pesticide 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.”

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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 CummingsThe Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? Trump: 'No reason' for White House to comply with congressional investigations Overnight Energy: Six Interior officials under ethics investigation | EPA chief failed to disclose former lobbying client | Greens ask Wheeler to back up claim that climate change is '50 to 75 years out' 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-LehtinenK Street boom extends under Trump, House Dems Bottom Line The women in white and the trails they blaze MORE (R-Fla.), Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloHillicon Valley — Presented by CTIA and America's wireless industry — Lawmaker sees political payback in fight over 'deepfakes' measure | Tech giants to testify at hearing on 'censorship' claims | Google pulls the plug on AI council Lawmaker alleges political payback in failed 'deepfakes' measure Ex-GOP lawmaker joins marijuana trade group MORE (R-Fla.) and Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikDem gun efforts run into Senate GOP bulwark Overnight Health Care: Lawmakers get deal to advance long-stalled drug pricing bill | House votes to condemn Trump's anti-ObamaCare push | Eight House Republicans join with Dems | Trump officials approve Medicaid expansion in Maine The 8 Republicans who voted against Trump's anti-ObamaCare push MORE (R-N.Y.) — also have called for Pruitt's ouster.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 MORE has indicated support for Pruitt, but noted this week he would be looking into the mounting accusations against him.