Pruitt met with lobbyist whose wife rented him condo

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt met with the lobbyist whose wife rented him a $50-a-night condo in Washington, D.C.

J. Steven Hart, a lobbyist for Williams & Jensen, set up the meeting with Pruitt on behalf of executive associated with Smithfield Foods, a large pork producer.

On Friday, The Hill reported that Hart had reached out to the EPA on behalf of a client, Smithfield Foods, contradicting Hart’s previous claims that he had not lobbied Pruitt’s agency last year or in 2018. Hart announced Saturday that he is also stepping down from the firm.

On Saturday, Ryan Williams, a spokesman for Hart, confirmed to The Hill that Hart in fact met personally with Pruitt in 2017 alongside Smithfield Foods’s former vice president Dennis Treacy.

The personal meeting was first reported by The New York Times.

Both Hart and Smithfield Food, however, deny that the meeting was to lobby on behalf of the company. A spokesperson for Smithfield Foods said that Hart’s work was instead a personal action on behalf of Treacy, the Times reported.

Both men claim the meeting was about the Chesapeake Bay Commission, which they are members of. The group works to improve water quality in the bay.

Hart says his work was not on behalf of Smithfield Foods and that he was not compensated for his work.

Pruitt has faced scrutiny in recent days for a number of controversies raising ethics questions, including his rental of a condo from Hart’s wife. He paid $50 a night and only paid for nights he stayed in the unit.

[The Hill]

Oil lobbyist linked to EPA secretary Scott Pruitt’s cheap DC condo rental had pipeline project approved

After his wife rented a Washington, D.C. condo to Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt for $50 a night, a Canadian oil lobbyist had his pipeline project approved by the department.

The New York Times reported Monday that the firm led by J. Stephen Hart, whose wife Vicki rented the condo to Pruitt, successfully lobbied the EPA to approve the Alberta Clipper pipeline in March 2017. The approval came despite Enbridge Inc. — a Calgary-based company that Hart’s firm Williams & Jensen lobbied for — being fined $61 million by the agency towards the end of Barack Obama’s presidency.

A spokesperson for Williams & Jensen told the Times that they did not interfere with the EPA or Pruitt before or after the administrator’s stay in the Hart condo. The company also said “it had not worked on similar regulatory issues for Enbridge in the past year, even though it was registered at the time as lobbying for the company on ‘issues affecting pipelines and construction of new pipelines,’” the report noted.

Shortly after the Times broke the story about the Alberta Clipper pipeline, Politico reported that White House chief of staff John Kelly has considered firing Pruitt — once considered to be a replacement for Attorney General Jeff Sessions — over this latest scandal.

The Daily Beast also reported Monday night that the owners of the townhome Pruitt rented hosted GOP fundraisers when he was living there.

[Raw Story]

Trump’s EPA chief Scott Pruitt caught living in prime DC condo owned by top energy lobbyist’s wife

President Donald Trump’s environmental chief has been living in a townhouse co-owned by the wife of a top energy lobbyist.

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt occupies the home a short distance from the U.S. Capitol, but neither the agency or lobbyist J. Steven Hart would say how much the Trump administration official has been paying to live in the prime location, reported ABC News.

The cost of the rental agreement will be a key question in determining whether the property is an improper gift, according to ethics experts.

Hart confirmed to ABC News that Pruitt lived in the condo, which is owned through a limited liability company that links to address owned by the lobbyist and his wife Vicki Hart — who is a lobbyist specializing in health care.

The Harts were described in 2010 by the newspaper Roll Call as a “lobbyist power couple.”

Steven Hart, chairman and CEO of Williams and Jensen, previously served in the Reagan Justice Department and is a top Republican fundraiser, and his firm reported more than $16 million in federal lobbying income last year.

“Among his many clients are the NRA and Cheniere Energy Inc., which reported paying Hart’s firm $80,000 a year,” ABC News reported.

[Raw Story]