WASHINGTON (CN) – A closer look into EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s expenses revealed Thursday that the former Oklahoma attorney general rented a Capitol Hill condo co-owned by a prominent energy industry lobbyist.
According to an ABC News report, during the first year of Pruitt’s appointment as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, he leased a condo unit inside a D.C. townhome from Vicki Hart. Hart’s husband, J. Steven Hart, is CEO of lobbying powerhouse Williams & Jensen.
The transaction may have run afoul of certain ethics rules, according to Bryson Morgan, former investigative counsel at the House Office of Congressional Ethics.
“I think it certainly creates a perception problem, especially if Mr. Hart is seeking to influence the agency,” Morgan told ABC News. “That’s where there is a gift rule.”
Steven Hart confirmed with ABC Thursday that the unit was owned by a limited liability company with an address connected to both him and his wife.
Vicki Hart is also a lobbyist who targets the health care industry but does not reportedly have any contracts with the EPA.
The EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday evening.
Steven Hart’s firm, Williams & Jensen, earned more than $16 million in federal lobbying dollars last year. One of its clients, Cheniere Energy Inc., paid Hart’s firm $80,000 for its services, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Thursday’s report marks the latest in a string of ethical inquiries into Pruitt’s spending habits, which most recently include a 2017 jaunt to Italy that exceeded $120,000.