Dem calls on Pruitt to resign over rental deal with lobbyist

Dem calls on Pruitt to resign over rental deal with lobbyist
© Greg Nash

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) wants Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Green New Deal vote set to test Dem unity | Renewables on track to phase out coal, study finds | EPA chief reportedly recuses himself from mine review EPA chief recuses himself from mine review his ex-law firm repped: report Oil execs boasted of 'unprecedented access' to Trump officials: report MORE to resign or be fired over the controversy surrounding an apartment he rented last year from a lobbyist.

The property is owned by Vicki Hart, a health lobbyist, whose husband, Steven, has energy industry clients. Pruitt reportedly negotiated the rental with Steven Hart.

Pruitt paid $50 per night for a Capitol Hill bedroom for a period last year — though he did not have to pay when he didn’t sleep there, and no one else lived in the entire condo unit at the time.

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“The latest outrage is the news that Scott Pruitt secretly worked out a special deal on condo rent with an industry lobbyist who represents companies regulated by the EPA. He apparently did not report the details of his arrangement to ethics counsel at the EPA beforehand, nor to the public,” Beyer said in a statement Friday.

“As he has done over and over again, he showed contempt for transparency, ethical guidelines, and the public interest,” he said. “Pruitt must resign. If he refuses to do so he should be fired immediately.”

The EPA said that, despite Pruitt not seeking ethics approval for the arrangement beforehand, ethics officials nonetheless found it to be above-board.

“I don’t conclude that this is a prohibited gift at all. It was a routine business transaction and permissible even if from a personal friend,” Justina Fugh, the EPA’s top career ethics official, said in a statement.

In addition to Beyer’s call for Pruitt to resign, Public Citizen, a left-leaning watchdog group, is asking the EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) to probe the matter.

“While a market rate rental arrangement between Pruitt and the lobbyist ‘power couple’ would not pose a violation of conflict of interest or gift rules, neither the EPA nor the Harts would comment on whether the arrangement involved fair market rates,” the group wrote to the OIG.

“If the rental arrangement was anything other, it would at least constitute a violation of the federal statutes and executive branch rules prohibiting gifts to covered officials from prohibited sources … as well as the gift ban under Executive Order #13770,” it said, referring to President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos claims he was pressured to sign plea deal Tlaib asking colleagues to support impeachment investigation resolution Trump rips 'Mainstream Media': 'They truly are the Enemy of the People' MORE’s ethics order.

OIG spokesman Jeffrey Lagda said the office is aware of Public Citizen’s request.

ABC News first reported Pruitt’s rental Thursday.