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Thu Nov 29, 2018, 08:05 PM

EPA watchdog closes two probes into Scott Pruitt's conduct, citing his resignation


EPA watchdog closes two probes into Scott Pruitt’s conduct, citing his resignation
The agency’s inspector general calls inquiries into his rental deal with a lobbyist and job search for his wife “inconclusive.”
By Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis
November 29 at 6:55 PM

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General has closed two probes into Scott Pruitt’s conduct without reaching any conclusions because he resigned as administrator in July, according to a report the agency submitted to Congress on Thursday. The investigations focused on Pruitt’s use of staff for personal purposes and a condo rental deal he made with a lobbyist.

The office did not make a finding as to whether Pruitt violated federal law, according to its semi-annual report, saying in each case that “the result of the investigation was inconclusive.”

Pruitt, who stepped down from his post in July in the face of multiple investigations into his spending and management practices, came under scrutiny for a variety of possible conflicts of interest. In the case of the housing agreement, Pruitt paid just $50 a night -- only when he was in town -- for the Capitol Hill condo owned by lobbyist Vicki Hart.

Hart’s husband, J. Steven Hart, is the former chairman of the firm Williams & Jensen. He lobbied EPA during Pruitt’s tenure, despite initially saying he did not do so in 2017 or 2018. Hart, who announced his retirement in April, contacted Pruitt’s staff on behalf of Coca-Cola, the Financial Oversight and Management Control Board of Puerto Rico and Smithfield Foods, according to disclosure forms filed by his former law firm. Williams & Jensen eventually amended its lobbying disclosure reports for seven of Hart’s clients to correct the record.

Emails released under the Freedom of Information Act also show that Hart contacted Pruitt’s chief of staff to encourage the EPA to hire a family friend. The person ultimately was not hired.


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