Watchdog files complaint GOP senator did not report fundraisers held at condo co-owned by lobbyist’s wife

Watchdog files complaint GOP senator did not report fundraisers held at condo co-owned by lobbyist’s wife
© Greg Nash

A watchdog group has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoGOP skeptical of polling on Trump GOP: Trump needs a new plan On The Money: US tops 100,000 coronavirus deaths with no end in sight | How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman's COVID-19 response | Tenants fear mass evictions MORE (R-Idaho) for failing to report fundraisers held at a condo co-owned by the wife of a top energy lobbyist.

Campaign for Accountability filed the complaint against both Crapo and Vicki Hart, who owns the Capitol Hill condo. Hart received intense scrutiny after it was revealed that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats chart course to 'solving the climate crisis' by 2050 | Commerce Department led 'flawed process' on Sharpiegate, watchdog finds | EPA to end policy suspending pollution monitoring by end of summer Watchdog: EPA hasn't provided 'sufficient justification' for decision not to recover Pruitt travel spending OVERNIGHT ENERGY: DOJ whistleblower says California emissions probe was 'abuse of authority' | EPA won't defend policy blocking grantees from serving on boards | Minnesota sues Exxon, others over climate change MORE had paid $50 a night to stay at the same condo, far below market price.

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The Daily Beast reported earlier this month that Crapo’s Senate campaign committee and his leadership PACs had held monthly fundraising events at the condo. However, the groups did not report payments to Hart or in-kind contributions for the use of the condo to the FEC, according to the complaint.

The watchdog is demanding an investigation into both Crapo and Hart for failing to report the payments or the in-kind contributions.

“The lobbyist owners of Scott Pruitt’s crash pad allowed Sen. Mike Crapo to host fundraisers at their Capitol Hill condo, seemingly at no cost,” Campaign for Accountability executive director Daniel Stevens said in a statement.

“Is it just a coincidence that the senator also introduced legislation that benefits the clients of the townhouse’s owners? The FEC should investigate whether Sen. Crapo or Vicki and J. Steven Hart broke any federal laws.”

In a statement, Crapo's office said the townhouse has not been used for personal reasons and if necessary his campaign would file amended reports with the FEC "to ensure compliance with campaign finance laws."

“Senator Crapo, like other members of Congress, has used the townhouse for campaign-related events, but not for the Senator’s personal use or for any overnight stays," his office told The Hill. "Last month, the Campaign initiated an internal review and then engaged outside counsel to examine the Campaign’s use of the townhouse and any resulting FEC reporting requirements. If necessary, the Campaign will file amended reports with the FEC to ensure compliance with campaign finance laws.”

Pruitt is facing backlash for renting the condo from Hart, whose husband, J. Steven Hart, is the chairman of Williams & Jensen, a large lobbying firm with clients that include energy companies with EPA interests.

The EPA’s top ethics official initially ruled that Pruitt’s rental agreement met the agency’s ethics guidelines. However, he later said that he didn’t have all of the facts when evaluating the cause.

Updated 7:02 p.m.