EPA Ethics Official: I Didn’t Have All The Facts When I Assessed Pruitt Rental

WASHINGTON, DC - December 7:  Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on December 7, 2017 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
Pete Marovich/Getty Images North America

When an ethics official at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined last week that Administrator Scott Pruitt’s rental of a room in a lobbyist’s home did not violate ethics rules, he did not have all of the facts about Pruitt’s rental situation, a new memo obtained by CNN reveals.

The ethics official, Kevin Minoli, wrote in a Wednesday memo that he only assessed whether the terms of the lease violated ethics rules, not whether Pruitt’s actual use of the space complied with rules.

“The Review addressed the terms of the lease as they were written in the lease agreement only. Some have raised questions whether the actual use of the space was consistent with the terms of the lease,” Minoli wrote. “Evaluating those questions would have required factual information that was not before us and the Review does not address those questions.”

The lease spelled out that Pruitt would be able to use one room in the home, however his daughter reportedly stayed in the second bedroom while serving as a White House intern at no extra cost.

Minoli also noted that he only assessed whether the rental violated gift rules, not whether it ran up against other ethics regulations regarding impartiality. The owner of the condo Pruitt rented for just $50 a night is a prominent lobbyist who represents Cheniere Energy, a natural gas exporter. The lobbying firm also had as a client a Canadian company linked to a pipeline project that the EPA approved during Pruitt’s time in the rental.

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