In a flood of new emails released due to a Sierra Club lawsuit, correspondence between EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s landlord and Pruitt’s chief of staff reveals a close relationship complete with lobbying on behalf of companies and discussion of possible EPA job candidates.
According to a Sunday New York Times report, landlord and lobbyist J. Steven Hart and Pruitt chief of staff Ryan Jackson communicated frequently about EPA matters.
Pruitt has repeatedly denied that Hart ever lobbied the EPA after suspicions were raised last year over the downtown D.C. condo he obtained for a scant $50 a night from Hart’s wife. Per the New York Times, at least two of the 13 federal investigations into Pruitt’s conduct as head of the EPA concern the living arrangement.
The emails reveal that Hart suggested many candidates for EPA jobs to Jackson, including a family friend whose potential hiring Hart said he and Pruitt discussed. He also reportedly lobbied Jackson on behalf of companies including Coca-Cola and Smithfield Foods, offered to try to sway Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) on an EPA candidate during dinner, and gave his advice on the Paris Agreement.
A Pruitt spokesman told the New York Times that Hart and Jackson were merely good friends from their days in Oklahoma and that their correspondence “did not impact any agency policy outcomes.”