Lobbyist Who Rented Room To Pruitt Says There Was No ‘Undue Influence’

President Donald Trump announces his decision about the United States' participation in the Paris climate agreement in the Rose Garden at the White House June 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump pledged on the campaign trail to withdraw from the accord, which former President Barack Obama and the leaders of 194 other countries signed in 2015 to deal with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance so to limit global warming to a manageable level.
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The prominent Washington, D.C. lobbyist who rented a room in his home to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt defended his decision to do so in a Friday morning statement.

Steve Hart, a lobbyist with the firm Williams & Jensen, claimed that his rental agreement with Pruitt did not lead to any favoritism toward his firm’s clients at the EPA.

“Williams & Jensen has always been committed to delivering exceptional client service with the highest ethical standards of professional conduct, so I take this matter very seriously and I regret that recent news reports could have created even a mere appearance that could call into question that forty year commitment,” Hart said in a statement to Politico’s Playbook.

“As I have stated previously, the condominium is not owned by Williams & Jensen, its partners, or any other employees of the firm, and any suggestion that Administrator Pruitt’s short-term rental of one of its bedrooms in 2017 resulted in undue influence for the firm or its clients with business before the EPA is simply false,” he continued in the statement. “I am confident in these facts, and certain that all fair and impartial assessments of the matter will conclude accordingly. Finally, I apologize to my wife, Vicki, whose fantastic career is being maligned unnecessarily.”

The revelation that Pruitt rented a room from a lobbyist came amid a swirl of ethics scandals plaguing the EPA administrator. He was already under fire for his travel expenses and other spending habits when the news of his short-term rental agreement broke. Pruitt and Hart have both defended the arrangement, but reporting indicates that the rental did create the potential for a conflict of interest. Hart and his firm represent several companies that deal with the EPA.

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