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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 GOP sets deposition deadline for Fusion GPS co-founder Collusion bombshell: DNC lawyers met with FBI on Russia allegations before surveillance warrant Comey rejects request for closed-door interview with House Republicans MORE (R-S.C.) has begun probing Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittTucker Carlson says he 'can't really' dine out anymore because people keep yelling at him Overnight Energy: Trump administration doubles down on climate skepticism | Suspended EPA health official hits back | Military bases could host coal, gas exports Suspended EPA health official: Administration’s actions mean ‘kids are disposable’ 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 CummingsTrump makes new overtures to Democrats Dems eye ambitious agenda if House flips Oversight Dems call for probe into citizenship question on 2020 census 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-LehtinenGOP group makes late play in Iowa seat once seen as lost Dems outraising Republicans in final stretch of midterms Electoral battle for Hispanics intensifies in Florida MORE (R-Fla.), Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloDems see blue 'tsunami' in House as Senate path narrows GOP spokeswoman says Republicans will lose House seats in midterms Cook Political Report shifts 7 more races towards Dems MORE (R-Fla.) and Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikCuomo: Driver in deadly limo crash did not have proper license Limo crash victims included family, friends going to birthday party at brewery Cook Political Report shifts 7 more races towards Dems MORE (R-N.Y.) — also have called for Pruitt's ouster.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Arpaio files libel suit against New York Times IMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East MORE has indicated support for Pruitt, but noted this week he would be looking into the mounting accusations against him.