Government watchdog finds ex-EPA chief Scott Pruitt didn't violate law appearing in beef association ad

Government watchdog finds ex-EPA chief Scott Pruitt didn't violate law appearing in beef association ad

A government watchdog is absolving former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittGovernment watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas MORE of any wrongdoing after critics questioned his involvement in an advertisement for beef.

A report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released Wednesday found that Pruitt did not violate any publicity or propaganda and anti-lobbying laws when he appeared in a National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NBCA) video in 2017.

"EPA’s use of its appropriations for the then-Administrator’s interview and appearance in an NCBA video did not violate the publicity or propaganda, grassroots lobbying, or Interior anti-lobbying provisions," the GAO report read. "Because the then-Administrator’s appearance in the video did not constitute a communication that was self-aggrandizing, purely partisan, or covert, EPA did not violate the publicity or propaganda prohibition."

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During a national tour with local stakeholders in 2017, Pruitt granted an interview with NBCA to speak about his proposed changes to the Water of the United States rule. The interview was then posted to the NBCA website and its social media pages with overlays giving a call to action.

EPA contended that the agency had no control of the marketing of the video and was not involved in its creation beyond the interview. 

"This is part of our state action tour, where we’ve gone out across the country, visiting with farmers and ranchers, stakeholders with respect to our redefining of what a Water of the United States is under the Clean Water Act," Pruitt says in part in the video.

Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsGraham to renew call for second special counsel Hillicon Valley: Sanders finds perfect target in Amazon | Cyberattacks are new fear 17 years after 9/11 | Firm outs alleged British Airways hackers | Trump to target election interference with sanctions | Apple creating portal for police data requests House Dems blast GOP for FBI, DOJ 'conspiracy theories' aimed to protect Trump MORE (D-Md.) and three other Democratic members of Congress initially requested the investigation.

Pruitt resigned from the EPA in July following a number of controversies tied to his spending of taxpayer dollars and ethics.