Theodoric Meyer and Eliana Johnson at Politico:
The prominent lobbyist whose wife rented a condominium to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt lobbied the agency while Pruitt was leading it, contrary to his and Pruitt’s public denials that he had any business before the agency, according to a Friday filing by his firm.Clare Foran at CNN:
The disclosure from the lobbying firm Williams and Jensen contradicts Pruitt's public statement last month that the lobbyist, J. Steven Hart, had no clients with business before the EPA, and came hours after Hart’s resignation from the firm.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt held a meeting with lobbyist J. Steven Hart during the time last year that Hart's wife rented him a room, a spokesman for Hart has confirmed to CNN.
The session also included a former executive vice president for Smithfield Foods, who is on the board of a nonprofit that the company describes as its philanthropic arm and is also a member of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, which works to improve conditions in the bay.
Pruitt has said the lobbyist had no clients with business before the agency, and Hart told E&E News last month that he has not lobbied the agency in the last two years.
Hart and Smithfield maintain that the meeting was personal, not business-related.
Steve Eder and Hiroko Tabuchi report at NYT about then-state-senator Pruitt's 2003 purchase of a fancy house in Oklahoma City:
A review of real estate and other public records shows that Mr. Pruitt was not the sole owner: The property was held by a shell company registered to a business partner and law school friend, Kenneth Wagner. Mr. Wagner now holds a top political job at the Environmental Protection Agency, where Mr. Pruitt, 49, is the administrator.
The mortgage on the Oklahoma City home, the records show, was issued by a local bank that was led by another business associate of Mr. Pruitt’s, Albert Kelly. Recently barred from working in the finance industry because of a banking violation, Mr. Kelly is now one of Mr. Pruitt’s top aides at the E.P.A. and runs the agency’s Superfund program.
At the E.P.A., Mr. Pruitt is under investigation for allegations of unchecked spending, ethics lapses and other issues, including his interactions with lobbyists. An examination of Mr. Pruitt’s political career in Oklahoma reveals that many of the pitfalls he has encountered in Washington have echoes in his past.
According to real estate records, the 2003 purchase of the house for $375,000 came at a steep discount of about $100,000 from what Ms. Lindsey had paid a year earlier — a shortfall picked up by her employer, the telecom giant SBC Oklahoma.
SBC, previously known as Southwestern Bell and later as AT&T, had been lobbying lawmakers in the early 2000s on a range of matters, including a deregulation bill that would allow it to raise rates and a separate regulatory effort to reopen a bribery case from a decade earlier. Mr. Pruitt sided with the company on both matters, state records show.
In 2005, the shell company — Capitol House L.L.C. — sold the property for $95,000 more than it had paid. While shell companies are legal, they often obscure the people who have an interest in them, and none of Mr. Pruitt’s financial disclosure filings in Oklahoma mentioned the company or the proceeds — a potential violation of the state’s ethics rules.