Energy & Environment

Fox News reporter confronts Pruitt: Are you draining the swamp by renting from lobbyist?

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt on Wednesday defended his use of a Capitol Hill condo that he rented for $50 a night during a fiery exchange with Fox News reporter Ed Henry. 

Henry grilled Pruitt over a slew of ethics controversies the EPA head has been at the center of. Most recently, Pruitt landed in hot water following reports he rented a condo for $50 a night from the wife of an energy lobbyist.

"Is draining the swamp renting an apartment from the wife of a Washington lobbyist?" Henry asked.

"I don't think that's remotely fair to ask that question," Pruitt responded, arguing that ethics officials have defended his actions. 

Pruitt admitted that he paid $50 a night for the condo, but only paid on nights when he stayed in the building.

Henry then pointed out that those who pay a mortgage on their home still pay for the house even when they don't sleep there, calling his arrangement a "sweetheart deal."

"This is a tremendous difference. I wasn't using the facility when I wasn't there," Pruitt said.

The EPA head went on to tout the successes his administration has had in cutting regulations, which he called "transformational."

"Have you made mistakes?" Henry asked.

"I think this is something that needs to be corrected," Pruitt responded. "It was a mistake by my team." 

"By your team. So do you take responsibility as the boss? Do you take responsibility?" Henry asked.

"I'm fixing the problem," Pruitt said.

The condo controversy is one of several Pruitt has been at the center of recently. The Atlantic reported Wednesday that Pruitt used an obscure law to give two EPA aides raises after the White House rejected his request to do so.

When asked about the pay raises by Henry, Pruitt denied knowing of the pay increase.

It was reported earlier this year that he spent more than $105,000 in taxpayer dollars on first-class travel while on agency business.

Pruitt has previously been scrutinized for his use of a 24/7 security detail, and for the EPA installing a soundproof "privacy booth" in his office suite at agency headquarters, reportedly costing more than $43,000.