House Dems request information from EPA on Pruitt's legal fund

House Dems request information from EPA on Pruitt's legal fund
© Greg Nash

House Democrats on Thursday sent letters to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittSaluting FOIA on its birthday Watchdog found EPA employees kept on payroll by Trump appointees after they were fired: report Oklahoma AG resigns following news of divorce, alleged affair MORE and the agency's Office of Inspector General (OIG) requesting information on a legal defense fund set up by Pruitt to defend himself in the midst of multiple scandals.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, and a group of five other Democratic lawmakers are investigating "potential ethical problems" created by Pruitt's legal fund, which the EPA chief disclosed during a Senate hearing last week.

Other lawmakers on the letters included Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinHouse erupts in anger over Jan. 6 and Trump's role Oversight Democrats launch investigation into GOP Arizona election audit Sanders on Richardson Olympic suspension: 'Speaks to the problems' of the 'war on drugs' MORE (D-Md.) and Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyHouse bill targets US passport backlog Democrats weigh next steps on Jan. 6 probe Tlaib, Democrats slam GOP calls for border oversight to fight opioid crisis MORE (D-Va.).

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"We have serious misgivings, however, about the potential ethical problems raised by such a fund, given your abysmal track record in such matters. We urge you to take all possible steps to mitigate any potential for conflicts of interest," the lawmakers wrote.

Specifically, the Democrats warned Pruitt against accepting anonymous donations to the fund, which they said would conflict with recent guidelines set by the Office of Government Ethics. Any donation above $390 to the fund must already be publicly disclosed, according to federal regulations.

“We are also concerned about the possibility of anonymous donations to your legal defense fund, as such donations could easily bypass prohibitions on donations from lobbyists and special interests with business before the EPA," they wrote.

"We strongly urge against any such delay in transparency, as lax disclosure would worsen already-severe mistrust of your leadership by Congress and the public.”

Pruitt told a Senate committee last week that he is not personally involved with soliciting donations for the fund, which he says is handled by his attorneys.

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

The EPA chief, whom President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump hails Arizona Senate for audit at Phoenix rally, slams governor Arkansas governor says it's 'disappointing' vaccinations have become 'political' Watch live: Trump attends rally in Phoenix MORE has defended as scandals mount, is currently the subject of 12 separate investigations from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the EPA inspector general's office, according to Politico.

The investigations surround a number of Pruitt's dealings, including his $50-a-night condo deal from the wife of an energy lobbyist and his construction of a $43,000 soundproof booth that was found to be in violation of congressional laws.