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Pruitt confirms he has a legal defense fund

Pruitt confirms he has a legal defense fund
© Greg Nash

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittScientific integrity, or more hot air? OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden proposes billions for electric vehicles, building retrofitting| EPA chief to replace Trump appointees on science advisory panels | Kerry to travel to UAE, India to discuss climate change EPA chief to replace Trump appointees on science advisory panels MORE said Wednesday that an external fund has been established to help him with legal costs.

Pruitt confirmed the reporting of The New York Times in a back-and-forth with Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenSherrod Brown: Teenager killed in Columbus police shooting 'should be alive right now' Democrats renew push for George Floyd Justice in Policing Act Democratic senators call on Biden to support waiving vaccine patents MORE (D-Md.) during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.

“It’s been set up,” he said in response to Van Hollen’s questions.

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The fund will let friends, allies, lobbyists and others donate to help defray any legal costs Pruitt might incur amid the numerous ethics and spending scandals currently surrounding him, and the dozen or so federal investigations into them.

But lobbyists and corporations with business before the EPA will not be allowed to donate, Pruitt told Van Hollen.

Pruitt indicated that he is not directly involved in the operations of the fund.

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

Pruitt said his attorney has been communicating with the Government Accountability Office and the White House’s Office of Government Ethics (OGE) to establish the fund and follow relevant laws.

Pruitt said the fund would follow the OGE’s recommendations that it not accept any anonymous donations, and that all donations be made public.

Pruitt has been under scrutiny for everything from his first-class travel expenses to large raises given to some of his top aides.