Environmental Integrity Project Calls for a Federal Investigation of Scott Pruitt’s Financial Ties to Energy Industry
Washington, D.C. – EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had been living in an apartment in Washington DC co-owned by the wife of an energy industry lobbyist whose firm represents clients regulated by EPA, including Oklahoma Gas & Electric, presenting a possible conflict of interest.
ABC News reported today that Pruitt, the former Oklahoma Attorney General, used or rented a Capitol Hill townhouse owned by Vicki Hart, wife of J. Steven Hart, the CEO of the lobbying firm Williams & Jensen, which represents energy companies and other manufacturers with operations regulated by the agency Pruitt runs. The amount Pruitt paid for rent or the length of the lease have not been disclosed.
ABC News revealed that Steven Hart represents Cheniere Energy Inc., owner of a liquid natural gas export terminal, which reported paying Hart’s firm $80,000 a year, according to a database maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics.
But that same database also contains information about several other energy industry companies regulated by EPA that are represented by Hart’s firm, including Oklahoma Gas & Electric, which paid Williams & Jensen $400,000 for lobbying in 2017. Mr. Pruitt has met with Oklahoma Gas & Electric multiple times since taking the reins at EPA.
The additional lobbying expenditures raise more questions that demand an thorough investigation, according to Eric Schaeffer, Director of the Environmental Integrity Project and former Director of Civil Enforcement at EPA.
“At the very least, it doesn’t look good for the Administrator of EPA to have rented an apartment from the wife of an energy industry lobbyist who represents companies regulated by EPA, such as Oklahoma Gas and Electric and Cheniere Energy, a major developer of liquefied natural gas,” Schaeffer said. “Does this explain why Pruitt flew to Morocco to pitch natural gas exports, which isn’t really an EPA concern? This needs to be investigated by the EPA’s Office of Inspector General and Congress.”
According to EPA travel records obtained by EIP, Pruitt’s trip to Morocco from December 9 to 13 cost taxpayers $17,631, including $16,217 for his first-class airfare, not including the costs of travel for his staff or security entourage.
Below is a list of some of the clients of Steven Hart’s firm, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, that are regulated by EPA. Energy companies appear in bold and the list includes the amount that each company paid Williams & Jensen to lobby Congress on their behalf. These amounts don’t include any additional expenditures for lobbying EPA or other federal agencies.
Cheniere Energy, $80,0000
Colonial Pipeline, $120,000
Concho Resources (shale producer), $210,000
Eli Lilly, $220,000
Enable Midstream Partners (oil and gas), $120,000
Enbridge (oil and gas), $200,000
Exxon Mobil, $70,000
General Electric, $120,000
Novartis (pharmaceutical), $200,000
Oklahoma Gas & Electric, $400,000
Owens Illinois, $520,000
Pfizer (pharmaceutical), $320,000
Roche Holdings (pharmaceutical), $160,000
Shire Pharmaceuticals, $240,000
Stanley Black & Decker, $200,000
Takeda Pharmaceuticals, $200,000
TE Connectivity (industrial/electronics mfg), $200,000
Veritec Solutions (electronics mfg), $80,000
Vertex Pharmaceuticals, $120,000